In 2019 Collins worked with Mailchimp’s in-house brand team to redesign the identity of the leading email marketing company. The comprehensive rebrand combined a new hand-lettered logo, bright color palette, and idiosyncratic illustration with Cooper BT Light, Bitstream’s cleaned-up digital version of the much better-known Cooper Black. This work stands as one of the most prominent examples of what I call the “Soft Warm Wave”, tech companies reacting against the clean, crisp — and often sterile — sans serifs of the previous decade. As Collins put it:
Mailchimp demonstrated to entrepreneurs that leveling up your business doesn’t mean erasing your peculiarities. In a world of templatized sameness, Mailchimp’s success told a story of growing up and staying weird. … We sought to capture and elevate that ineffable Mailchimp spirit, a potent combination of wry humor, modest celebration, and a dash of absurdity. We developed a new brand system that, in each element — from the new logotype, logomark, color palette, typographic system, and hallmark illustration and photographic styles — works to maintain a precise balance between the sophisticated and the surreal (bucking reductive, over-simplified design trends), to better chart the company’s unique path and expression. The solution seeks to amplify Mailchimp as a beacon for its customers, a message to growing brands to nurture their idiosyncrasies and preserve what makes them different.
[Cooper Light] served the company well through the initial period of using their new identity, but came up short in its limited weight range, poor suitability for interface design, and the ubiquity and strong retro flavor of Cooper Black. Mailchimp liked that Cooper Light could feel refined and editorial but also casual and approachable, depending on the setting. The new typeface still needed to straddle the line between Expert and Absurdist. In Mailchimp’s words: “Smart but not stuffy. Goofy but definitely aced its SATs.”