Sydney Fish Market borrowed something old and something new for its new brand identity

The iconic seafood market is undergoing a huge physical update and needed new branding to reflect this transformation

Fresh from securing a $750 million investment from the New South Wales Government into redeveloping the Sydney Fish Market, a renewed identity to depict the changing nature of the iconic brand was a must.

2022 was a year of evolution for the largest seafood market of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Highlights include the launch of an online marketplace, ongoing construction of the new Sydney Fish Market and the World Fisheries Day Environment Grant, which supports sustainability innovation in the industry. The launch of SFMblue, the market’s digital trading platform, is further designed to future-proof the industry and modernise the way Sydney Fish Market facilitates seafood industry trading.  

With a complex range of stakeholders, including seafood traders and retailers, and owned equally by the Catchers Trust of NSW and the Sydney Fish Market Tenants and Merchant company, the process to rebrand has been a multi-step one.  

“There’s the seafood trading element, the importance of the market for fishers up and down the New South Wales coastline, and more broadly across Australia, retailers on site, consumers and the market staff themselves,” explained Sydney Fish Market CMO, Lauren Drummond.  

Defining and preserving the brand’s sacred cows  

To help rebrand, Sydney Fish Market engaged Interbrand. One of the first things the agency wanted to articulate was the sacred cows for the Sydney Fish Market. In this case, it was the distinctive blue crates. Drummond explained how they’re key to the way seafood is traded and dispersed across the country.  

“You can walk into a fish shop in Melbourne and the first thing you'll see is a Sydney Fish Market crate. That tells the story of the evolution of the brand,” she said. The crates will remain in circulation and will continue to feature in the market’s imagery “so we have this nice progression of the logo”.  

From the outset, the brand strategy had to underpin and guide the work. Informing this was articulation of the brand purpose and value proposition across the diverse stakeholder set, which includes a trade, customers and employees themselves. It also needed to be distilled down to a strategy on a page that captures the essence of the updated brand.  

For Drummond, the new branding signifies the transformational journey of the market, while also celebrating its legacy and the critical role it plays in delivering sustainable growth for the Australian seafood industry.  

The market site is undergoing a physical transformation, with the NSW Government reimagining the iconic site to create a new market space for the future. The brand strategy and the new branding needed to reflect the three core pillars of the market - People, Produce and Place - to capture the next era for the market, which is set to open in 2024. Designed by internationally renowned 3XN, the facility will be a purpose-built, authentic operating fish market, with major food and dining options on Sydney’s inner harbour. With this in mind, the market’s new brand identity also needed to have elements from the world-class building design woven in.  

Capturing the rich history of the market was important, but the team opted to renew the old and iconic logo of a man holding a fish. The new logo takes inspiration from the design of the building with its distinctive wave-shaped roof, inspired by the ocean and produce that comes from it.  

“While it reflected the heritage, it wasn't really modern and easy to work with from a marketing perspective. We wanted to evolve that, and we now have this incredibly beautifully designed architectural feature of the fish market roofline and the new logo is inspired by the roof and also the top of the ocean and in a way that it moves,” Drummond told CMO.  

The new logo also needed to capture the “spirit of the sea”. “We really looked at our connection to the sea itself, with seafood trading and the literal interpretation of bringing seafood in to be sold at a market, but also the kind of ebb and flow of the market itself, and the way that it moves across the course of a day,” she said.  

Coupled with this are a new colour palette, photography and illustrations. “The key for us throughout this process was acknowledging the heritage and history, also having firm eyes on the future and what's ahead of us with, especially with this building now literally coming out of the water in front of us,” Drummond added.  

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