ANTOINE: TAKING A LOCAL ICON INTO THE 21ST CENTURY

The Context

A few years ago, the Lebanese bookseller market was considerably shaken up by a flashy new kid on the block, Virgin Megastore. Suddenly, a lot of traditional Lebanese book retailers’ brands started to look stale and old. Many of them stayed stuck in their ways, but Librairie Antoine came to us with a bold vision for their future.

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The Situation

Librairie Antoine had been around for 75 years when their director of marketing (a former member of Keeward, and the current CEO of one of our managed projects, Books Without Borders), sat down with Keeward’s creative director. They discussed ideas about how to rejuvenate the image of one of the most respected and recognized brands in the Lebanon. They realized that their logo and identity had aged, and they wanted to reinject life into it for the next 75 years.

The Solution

First of all, Librairie Antoine had to become simply Antoine, as the company expanded into the sale of products other than books. We wanted to streamline the brand and focus on its timelessness, so we opted for a neutral font, Helvetica. We then extracted one element, the A, as the essence of the brand and built the Q&A campaign around it. Antoine’s A became the answer to consumers’ needs.

We didn’t want the A to be too clinical, and we wanted it to really represent everything about the brand, hence the fold on the (barre du A), which represents a page being turned.

The Next Level

Rather than just enjoy the warm reception the new identity got, Keeward and Antoine decided we could go further in rejuvenating the brand by developing an entire new online division, that would complete Antoine’s offering. Keeward’s expertise in ecommerce and online community management was essential to the success of the project. Today, Antoine Online has more than 8 million titles, in five languages, from the best Arabic, francophone and English-language publishers, carefully curated for a discerning audience. Traffic has shot up from 1,800 visits in 2008 to 10,000 in 2010, and to an astonishing 71,000 visits in 2011 so far. Perhaps more importantly, they have an ongoing conversation with a reactive online community on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and most recently Pinterest.

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