AO is one of the UK’s biggest online electrical stores, with everything from toasters and washing machines, to laptops and sound systems. While we’ve all heard the radio jingle (‘AO, let’s go!’), AO's brand came across more functional than friendly.
AO came to us to refresh and digitise their brand, and reflect the incredible internal culture they’ve built over 20 years. They needed so much more than just a logo and colour – they needed a complete shift from online retailer, to loved brand.
To really get to know what makes them tick, we went to the home of AO: Bolton. We got to know AO’s people, products, and services – including joining their drivers out on deliveries and visiting their impressive recycling facilities.
From day one, they welcomed us into their big northern family, and treated us like part of the team. They’re full of beans, empathetic, and optimistic — qualities loved by customers nationwide. We knew we had to bottle this and bring it to life across every aspect of the brand experience.
We began by defining an underlying brand concept: ‘Always on’. More than just a cheeky acronym, this was a true reflection of the authentic AO spirit and dedication we’d experienced in immersion. This idea drove everything we made next.
The brand needed to work beyond the world of online retail, so we developed a graphic system that works in both 2D and 3D, all inspired by AO's friendly smile. It's designed for flexing across all aspects of the customer experience — from digital advertising, to uniforms, van deliveries, door drops, and even furniture.
We gave the old smile a facelift, cleaning up curves and spacing, and optimising it for digital environments. We turned 'on' AO’s colour palette, with more vibrance and lots of distinction from competitors.
To express AO’s warmth through every touchpoint, we worked with type foundry F37 to craft a bespoke typeface full of ‘friendly’ ligatures and glyphs.
‘Always On’ continued to inspire every interaction with the brand, including the lively tone of voice, sonic signatures, motion principles, and photography that features real people in real homes across the country.
“This has already been an amazing year for AO so now felt like the right time to have a bit of a facelift. Our people and customers have always loved our smile, we knew this needed to stay, but we needed it to feel more modern. Working with Design Studio has felt like a true partnership, they spent time getting to know us, our strategy and ambitions and then bottled it all up into our new design system. Together, I think we have created something special, something we are all very proud of.”Arafa Heneghan, Head of Brand at AO
In true AO-style, the internal team are buzzed and ready to go. Departments across the business now have a toolkit that confidently captures their unique spirit, and a brand that sets them up for an exciting future.
We can’t wait to continue helping AO roll out their brand across the country, both on screen and in the real world.