A ‘new’ brand identity for iconic outdoor retailer REI

Design

REI was founded in Seattle by a group of climbing buddies in 1938, and has been a cooperative business since day one. After an attempt to streamline its identity in the early 1980s, the ‘co-op’ language was removed from the brand identity. After a strategy shift, the iconic retailer sought to re-embrace its cooperative history.

The REI logo in a neon sign on the exterior of the Burbank, CA store

Archival REI

Strange Practice worked in tandem with Hornall Anderson to create the new mark. Several months were spent exploring every option, from simply adding a ‘co-op’ bug to the existing logo, to starting from scratch. Many of the explorations fulfilled the original brief, but none fit squarely into the existing REI brand language.

After taking a deep-dive into the brand's archives, reverting to the 1970s-era identity — with some modernization — felt like the right answer. The mark is as funky and soulful as The Co-op’s customers.

Inspiration from the REI archives

Subtle update, but a big difference

By tidying up the tree silhouette and adding some hard corners back into to the type, the new identity feels like both a throwback and a natural progression. The sharp edges and subtle curves are a nod to the blade of an ice axe (an essential piece of the brand’s story) and most importantly, the new mark is still instantly recognizable as REI.

Logo in the wild

The final logo lends itself to an extensive set additional marks and applications — wherever the brand needs. It feels right at home on apparel, hard goods, and store signage.


I've had the good fortune to work with Jordan on a variety of projects... He’s a master of digging into the DNA of a company and moving it forward without losing a connection to the past... He’s been able to help us get to new places and to see things in different ways. In fact he’s one of my favorite go-to people when I need new thinking or explorations on an idea.”

Jason Sutherland
Creative Director, REI Brand