An "x" that disconnects

New logo and identity for Dexus by Hulsbosch

Logo before and after
Logo before and after

Dexus (formerly Dexus Property Group) is one of Australia’s leading commercial real estate groups, with a property investment and management portfolio valued at over $22 billion. They invest only in Australia, and primarily own and manage high quality office, industrial and retail properties. Dexus is a Top 50 entity by market capitalisation listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and is supported by 30,000 investors from 20 countries. They were founded in 1984 under the name Deutsche Diversified Trust.

Awareness of Dexus was “low” and the brand had been perceived as being “old-fashioned and corporate”. They approached Hulsbosch to shift these perceptions and better communicate their vision of the modern workplace, as they have evolved to become more customer-focused. In the process, they got a new visual identity.

The new Dexus brand identity is built from its “Leading by doing” strategic platform. It speaks about their courage to innovate, of simplifying the complex and of being active but not talking about it.

Our creative idea had to crossover location borders, ensure adaptability across office, industrial and retail properties, as well as visually bring something different to the business.

The fresh look and feel is more user-friendly, future-focused and reflects the notion that Dexus continually brings perspectives together, finding better ways to shape workplaces, now and in the future.

Hulsbosch project page and B&T article

New logo detail
New logo detail

The old logo looked pretty corporate indeed. The name was set in Helvetica Neue – neutral, rigid – in an extended width. I don’t generally incline to extended width fonts, and the relaxed letter-spacing just bothered me a bit more, because it made the type look stretched (but not totally unsightly). Above the type was – one would assume – an outline of tall buildings, in reference to the high-rise properties that Dexus owns in cities across the country. That element felt quite disconnected from the logo, just a bit too high. (On that note, “Property Group” was also kind of floating away.) I have to mention, too, that the old logo reminded me of the logo for the TV show, Frasier. Now that is how you integrate a city skyline into a logo ;). Overall, the old Dexus logo was nothing special, but it gave the impression of a company that was professional and ready to get down to business.

Here’s a video that introduces the new brand.

The new logo drops “Property Group” and is set, for the most part, in an unassuming geometric sans-serif (gimme a shout if you can identify it). Seeing that this typeface has subtle rounded corners and that the name is in all-lowercase, it immediately gives the company a friendlier vibe than before.

The hook of this logo is the bisected “x” character. I actually kind of like it. Often you see designers tweak characters in logos with a genuine intention to produce something more unique than simply typed text. It’s a delicate operation that involves restraint and starting off with a typeface and series of letters that are conducive to successful customisation. Unfortunately, the result can sometimes look contrived, but that’s not the case here.

The two halves, although separate, feel magnetically linked, and stable. And it’s still recognisable as an “x”. Ironically, the division creates the appearance of arrow heads converging, which sort of ties with the notion of “bringing multiple perspectives together” and connecting with customers. A bonus feature of the “x” is that the halves can become parentheses or enclosures for other text (like pull quotes), so that’s kind of neat.

I noticed that the two halves also look like wing nuts, which is all the more appropriate for a company that invests in building things.

New Dexus logo variants
New Dexus logo variants (Source)

Accompanying the logotype is a rectangle element that can be filled with different colours. It adds a dynamic aspect to the logo and I suppose is designed to give each property or application its own look. If you look at some of the rectangles in isolation, the colour combinations can be quite unexpected – weird even – but in application they harmonise with surrounding graphics and imagery.

Dexus property listing boards (there must be a better name for these things)
Dexus property listing boards (there must be a better name for these things)
Dexus business cards
Dexus business cards

I particularly like the logo applied across business cards, as each one is personalised with a unique colour combination. We also get a glimpse of the brand typography; the primary typeface is Gilroy, another geometric sans-serif. It complements the logo and suits headings and short descriptions, but its texture verges on monotony in longer copy (like in this fact sheet). Certainly, when text is broken up into smaller chunks, like in this brochure, it does a better job.

Logo for Dexus Place sub-brand using Gilroy
Logo for Dexus Place sub-brand using Gilroy
Dexus brand colour palette, typography and aspirational fluff
Dexus brand colour palette, typography and aspirational fluff

In other applications, the coloured rectangles break up into chips or tiles to create a confetti effect, which can fill any manner of bare space. It’s an interesting, logical extension to the identity and looks pleasantly random. My only concern is that this particular effect might be too playful for the brand if overused, but it’s fine in small doses here and there.

Dexus glass decal
Dexus glass decal
Folders
Folders
Posters?
Posters?

Overall, this is a great update from Hulsbosch that revitalises what was previously an unremarkable brand identity. The endless permutations of coloured rectangles and their arrangement keeps things fresh and are sure to liven up whatever space they are applied to. It’s an ambitious foundation for a rebrand, and I hope the company can build on it with inventive new applications in the future.