Costco is a brand we’re all familiar with. They are known for the value they provide for their customers, their business model and their outstanding leadership culture.
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Costco has scored top marks for online shopper customer satisfaction, going head to head with Amazon. Costco continues to thrive and meet the needs of their consumers and its relentless pursuit of a human-first culture. When it comes to employee compensation, Costco is a leader in having the highest starting wages in North America. Its culture is engraved in promoting leadership, inclusivity and integrity. There is a sense of pride among the organization and its employees that provides them a sense of integrity and care.
In short, this large retailer has built a strong foundation in trust between its employees and customers. When you walk into a Costco warehouse, you’re buying the best quality product at the lowest-possible prices. With retail margins under pressured, increased costs in supply chain management, and growing expectations from customers, Costco has still managed to raise the bar in customer satisfaction among other competitors like Amazon that shared the same values in ‘Customer Obsession’.
To maintain this stride, Costco needs to continue to identify improvements in its digital positioning to maintain its customer loyalty and world-class customer journeys, so our design team wanted to dive into crafting and conceptualizing an enhanced digital and physical customer experience.
In our rebrand, we focus on refreshing the brand elements, improving UX & extended functionality to their online eCommerce store, and an enhanced pharmacy experience for their prescription refills and mail-order.
Why did we decide to work on a conceptual rebrand for Costco? Well for one, it's a brand we're all familiar with. Costco is thriving and will continue to score top satisfaction among customers, so our design team wanted to take a couple weeks to craft and conceptualized an enhanced digital and physical customer experience.
It can be argued that the current Costco logo is iconic. It's the only logo the company has ever used and works great for a big box store with thick, large lettering and use of 'classic' blue and red, both shaded in a darker tone. However, with the dawn of a new decade, logos like Costco's are becoming obsolete as more and more retail ventures turn towards online shopping. The current logo does not scale well to smaller sizes and it lacks any kind of icon or recognizable symbol.
Because of these factors, we updated the logo in the way that we did. We updated the red and blue to more modern, brighter shades that look much better on screens. A new colour (light grey) was also added to create more depth. We enhanced the font, using more modern fonts that focus on rounded corners and symmetry to create a cleaner identity. Keeping the word "Costco" uppercase in the logo was very important to us to keep ties with the old brand. However, the word wholesale felt very blown out being all caps. By making it smaller and going with no caps we took emphasis off of the word and gave more back to "Costco" instead.
Adding the small box gave us an opportunity to add a symbol to the brand, something that was clearly lacking. The box can serve as an icon, as well as the C with lines through it, giving the brand more room to play with and grow as well as using the box in creative ways going forwards. As the logo scales down, elements are able to be dropped from it without it losing its core message. First the box can be dropped, then the word "wholesale" allowing for a simple Costco logo for smaller screens.
The three lines were important to retain. They had been an iconic part of the brand for forty years yet we felt they were too overbearing on the logo. Modern brands, especially in retail, have been drifting towards lighter, simpler logos that use more space and rely less on something like three large lines. Using the lines as a negative space for the C allows the brand to be tied to its history while also creating a more unique "C" for smaller instances.
The biggest flaw of the current Costco app is that it is simply a wrapper of their website. As a result, the current app does not provide users with a fully native experience, does not work offline, and since every element needs to be downloaded each time, the app becomes slow.
Upon taking a closer look at the App Store reviews, users also shared frustrations over the app not supporting Apple Wallet. Although users are able to connect their membership to the app, they are unable to add their card to their Apple Wallet. This means that whenever they need to access their card, they need to locate the app, make sure they have internet connection, open the membership tab, and scan their card. Our goal was to cut down this process. We wanted to make it easier and faster by allowing users to add their card to their Apple Wallet.
The Scan & Go feature was another important aspect to our redesign.This new functionality allows users to scan items while they'e shopping in the warehouse and pay right from their phone, allowing them to skip the long line ups! We took inspiration from Walmart's new functionality called "Walmart Pay".
An area we wanted to focus on was Costco's online warehouse experience. Our approach was to simplify their product list by highlighting their item categories and showcasing featured products as well as Costco's brand, Kirkland.
Striping it down to 4 products per section allowed for more breathing room and less concentration on products they sell. It was important to maintain continuity within the brand. Incorporating our redesigned logo, and colour scheme created a cohesive look that was in line with out redesign vision.
Beyond just looking at Costco's online warehouse, we dived into their mail order prescription service as well. With the rise of mail-order pharmacies like PillPack, there is so much opportunity in this space.
We wanted to approach the website from the eyes of a new customer, rather than existing one. Which is why we kept the content informative and inviting. What we noticed that lacked in their current design was structure and content that was concise and easy to understand. We striped away the fragmented design and created a clean, natural flow to the page, breaking down the distinguishing points of the service for the customer.
For the mobile app, we created an experience that allows users to easily add new prescriptions, refill their existing prescriptions, and transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies. Users are also able to track the status of their prescriptions. This allows users to have full control over their pharmacy needs right from their mobile devices.
A rebrand isn't just a redesigned logo. An entire brand identity gets changed, which means updating the brand everywhere it traditionally lives. From membership cards, to billboards, to employee lanyards, and especially the signage, we took a stab at creating this new identity from the ground up.
Rebranding an iconic company like Costco is certainly no small feat. This collage of mockups depicts just a small part of what a company would have to redesign as part of a larger rebrand. The process, starting from the logo, to the guideline, to the website, mobile app and everything in between is a constant process of evolution, something that demonstrates how powerful design really is and how a simple brand has the ability to impact countless lives.
In a world where Amazon is positioned to be the ‘Retailer Destroyer’, Costco continues to thrive. Costco is in a unique position to continue to stay nimble and respond quickly to the the constantly changing retail landscape and increased competition.