Not the Logo, 
but the Story is the Brand

A good logo can tell the story of an entire brand at a glance. The Steiff logo is the best example, says Managing Director Ruediger Goetz - and receiving a gold award at the German Design Award is proof of this.

Brands are mirrors of our society. And for many, there is currently a feeling that everything must become faster and more digital, precisely because our society is also becoming faster. Digital presence and excellence are undoubtedly a must, but they should not overshadow the fact that brands also serve another crucial function: They are instruments of simplification, orientation, and trust. In a complex, depersonalized, and anonymous market, brands create a stable transactional basis between consumers and manufacturers.


While we may debate anonymity and genuine closeness in our ubiquitous social media world, we cannot deny the continuously growing complexity. And this is where brands can leverage their original strength: guidance, stability, tranquility, in other words, a soothing reduction of complexity. This requires brands to consistently focus on why they became a brand in the first place. Typically, it's because of a unique product, service, or a remarkable story.


For our client Steiff, these question were the central challenge of the relaunch: How modern, how digital, how innovative should a brand be when their product retains its material and emotional value exclusively in sensual reality? What is the brand's story, and how can it be manifested?

No one else can claim to be the 
inventor of the Teddy bear

Engaging with Steiff quickly reveals an impressive history: Steiff is not just a high-quality and beloved stuffed toy brand. It played a crucial role in inventing an entire category ­– or at least had a significant part in it. The first Steiff stuffed animal was an elephant. Later, the Teddy bear – a not-flattering homage to the American President Roosevelt and his unsuccessful hunting passion – became the namesake and icon of an entire toy category and a positive symbol of a happy childhood.  

A brand that invented the Teddy bear. Not a bad story, right? It's not only true but also brimming with many beautiful anecdotes of German entrepreneurship, imagination, empathy, and the power of strong women – from a time when these virtues were not yet buzzwords but a century away from becoming societal aspirations and values. Incidentally, Margarethe and Richard Steiff also invented the "button in the ear," a new multisensory form of product branding that still works exceptionally well today. A role model for many brands, and truly unparalleled beyond its segment.


But all of this was not widely known. So how do you tell this story? Not through a campaign, but by putting it at the core of what defines a brand: its logo. We believed that if there's a universal (Teddy bear) icon, it should belong to Steiff! Including the button in the ear, of course. In a timeless and pictographic clarity that could have been created 100 years ago. Traditional logo design craftsmanship that couldn't be more contemporary: consistent visual information and clear sender identification for every application.

A true love brand also has a love story. And 
a strong logo tells it.

Brands don't always have to outdo themselves with novelty

But the relaunch of Steiff should sharpen our awareness that a good logo is beautiful and technically perfect. Above all, it must tell a story – a story worth telling, a story that creates value. By doing so, the logo becomes a rock of brand leadership in the midst of the communicative and media cacophony. 

Is this a new insight? Certainly not. But our industry, which is inherently curious and in constant need of stimulation, often gets distracted by the possibilities of the new and loses sight of the universal power of the familiar. This applies to agencies but also, often, to clients. We were fortunate that an empathetic and responsible team found an open-minded and appreciative client. A client who, through our external perspective, rediscovered the priceless originality of its own brand: a brand that tells its story as a soothing counterbalance to a restless world and gains strength precisely because of it. 

Meet the author

Managing Director

Mail to Ruediger