Meet Hans Hulsbosch: The man behind the logos

By: Jacob Shields

How do you sum up an entire company in just a symbol?

Just ask Hans Hulsbosch, a man so sought after for his talents, that even some of the nation’s biggest rivals, Qantas and Virgin, begrudgingly shared him to create both their corporate identities. Walk into any airport, any shopping centre, or down any street in the country and it is more than likely you’ll see a symbol proudly on display that had its genesis inside his brilliant mind. Thousands of workers, billions of products, and all under the careful design of one man.

For almost 35 years, Hans Hulsbosch’s passion in life has allowed him to create images and ideas that are so strongly linked within our culture it would take something incredible to change. He’s the man credited for the current version of the Qantas Kangaroo, the man who transformed Virgin, and gave Woolworths one of the biggest makeovers any company in Australia has ever seen. But how does it happen? According to Hans, it’s a little bit of creativity, and a LOT of passion. Mr Hulsbosch has had an illustrious, powerful behind the scenes career, and has helped shape Australia’s identity around the world.

When asked about how his greatest creations were born, the answer was simple.

“So its starts usually with a client that has a problem. A company has an issue with their brand… it can be a completely new brand, or it can be a brand that’s been around for 5/10/50 years.

“Usually either that brand is no longer relevant to customers, or they feel that competitors are doing much better than they are… or they simply want to renew their image, their brand, whatever the service is they offer,” he said. With one of his biggest projects, Woolworths, it was everything and more. They needed to be re-invented, re-created.

“With woollies, they had a good strapline… ‘The Fresh Food People…’  but it was just in words. They didn’t show it visually, what it actually meant. They didn’t have an icon that clearly stated who they were.

“These days if you don’t have a very powerful icon, you’re not in the game. You’re not there. They kind of felt that they didn’t connect with the audience in the right now, so they called us in to have a look at the whole thing.” What they did next has been seen by almost every single Australian, rolling out the new icon into over a thousand stores. But they didn’t just stop there… Hans saw an opportunity to transform Woolworths, and take the supermarket to the next level.

“It turned into a mega job – we also did all the in-store. The strategies behind how people use the stores, the designs of it, then of course all the packaging had to be redesigned, all their own packaging.

“All of that (the rebrand itself, the icon) took about eight months. But then the rest of it, the in-store and packaging and all of that took another 5 years to make happen,” Hans said. According to Hans, that’s what happens with these huge brands. They need to do it right, and do it justice. He points to the timelessness of the rebrand, and proudly illustrates that this can now last for over 50 years, not needing to be done again for a long time. When pressed about which project he loved the most, Hans confessed it was too difficult, as each project took something unique, something special to come to life.

And while Qantas and Woolworths are one of his biggest clients to date, NOTHING can compare to the whirlwind twelve months he spent on Virgin.

“Virgin… it took a total rebrand, it had to go from Virgin Blue to Virgin Australia, so not only was I responsible for exterior, but also interior designs of aircraft. Anything from chairs to lighting to music to carpet to uniforms, everything you see on the aircraft.

“Plus, I was also responsible for the lounge, the airports, and that was major.  But what was interesting, CEO John Borghetti gave me a year to do this job.”

“That was actually a really tough job only because I only had a year to do all of that. A job that normally takes five years, had to be pushed into one. That was a great challenge but really really exciting, and working with John Borghetti was an experience with itself.”

For somebody who has achieved so much, and has left such a mark already, it’s amazing that Hans Hulsbosch is showing no signs of letting up.

“This year we are celebrating 35 years in business, and by the end of the year, there hasn’t been one day I said I don’t want to do this anymore. “It’s one of the most exciting jobs I can imagine because every day you work with someone else’s problem and you get paid to solve it.” Like a proud father speaking about his children, Hans says there are many moments, many projects that he considers extra special. But there is still one that makes him smile the most.

“I would say Woolworths would be one of those, that was just a fabulous job at the time. And it was not an easy job at all, it was quite difficult to be able to capture something that all of Australia already knew, as a brand, but then lift it to another level.

“During the year it launched, it was voted one of the top 5 rebrands in the world, and next thing it became one of the top 5 logos all time in Australia ‘I’m really proud of that, it’s just a wonderful thing to do.”

Going forward, Hans is incredibly excited about one of his current projects: Football Federation Australia.

“We’ve been given this contract from them, and they want to be the number one sport in Australia. To be part of that, and to rebrand and then work with them and figure out how to get there, is a very exciting process.

“The sport is so exciting, all the people you meet and the passion they have for the brand, it’s just really great to see.”

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