Monthly Archives: July 2016

New Look Tate

To coincide with the opening of its new building, Tate invited design studios from around the world to pitch for a possible identity redesign. North, however, argued that the exisiting identity could still do the job – all it needed was a ‘deep clean’ and some clarity about its usage. North’s Sean Perkins and team explain why, sometimes, the best solution is to stick with what works


Tate’s branding was a central part of its relaunch in 2000. Having come up with the core ‘look again, think again’ brand idea, Wolff Olins scored a big hit with the identity that sprang from it, with its striking introduction of not one but a whole range of logotypes that moved in and out of focus, ‘suggesting the dynamic nature of Tate – always changing but always recognisable’.

Like the rest of Tate, the brand has kept changing over the years – but not in such a good way. In fact, in the words of North’s Sean Perkins, whose studio has just completed a ‘deep clean’ of Tate’s brand, the whole thing was “a mess”. With a total of 75 different logotypes to choose from, a Tate font with several weights and no formal guidelines on grids, colours, positions, sizes and formats to aid decision-making, Tate’s in-house design team had been struggling with consistency for years. “They were paralysed because every time they designed anything, there were so many potential expressions,” says Perkins. “Having no rules, which was the original idea behind the brand, led to it looking tatty. If you look at the Barbican or the Whitney or the Stedelijk, there’s lots of beautiful expression and newness, but beneath it there’s a consistency that helps recognition and offers a guarantee of quality. With the Tate, the lack of consistency was getting in the way of that engagement with people.”

The project, led by North’s Jeremy Coysten and Stephen Gilmore, has been as much about establishing a stable set of design ground rules, or ‘building blocks’, for Tate’s in-house team as about developing new expressions and applications of the brand. “Having more parameters helps creativity,” says Perkins. “It unplugs designers from a lot of politics and helps them focus on creating something with impact.”

North selected just one version of the logotype and made it the sole wordmark, then re-created it with 340 dots in place of the previous 3,000. The reduction means that each dot can be individually animated and occasionally redrawn, as with the special edition produced to mark the Switch House opening, with square dots to echo the building’s architecture. Location names will stand free of the wordmark, in specified positions on the grid.

Tate’s head of marketing, Rob Baker, agrees. “In many ways what North have created has allowed us to realise the potential of the identity, ensuring it can exist seamlessly on different platforms, using the Tate logo and typography in more expressive ways in our communications and on products in our shops and applying colour creatively.”

The new look for NYC

NYC & Company – the official tourism and marketing organisation for New York – has a launched a new visual identity, with custom typefaces, 250 icons and an updated website with over 100 pieces of video content.


NYC & Company’s branding combines black and white with bold shades of blue, pink, orange, yellow, green and purple inspired by the city

The branding was designed in-house by a creative team made up of 22 designers, art directors, photographers, copywriters and videographers. It features two custom typefaces: NYC Sans, based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 MTA branding and City Block, based on the geometry of the NYC logotype. NYC Sans features several alternates, including four Ms and four Ys, and Lessard says alternative characters will be used at random or for particular types of communications (a ‘friendly’ Y, for example, will be used in communications aimed at families).

NYC Sans features several alternative characters, including four Ms and four Ys
NYC Sans alternates. Lessard says the alternative characters will be used at random in communications and aim to reflect the diverse mix of signage and lettering found in the city

A colour palette combines black with bolder shades inspired by local landmarks. “Our primary colour is black, but we never use just black – we follow the Josef Albers colour theory, so we use it as an activator to make bright colours even brighter,” explains Creative director Emily Lessard. The second colour is taxi cab yellow and the third, Bowie purple – there’s also Staten Island Ferry orange and two greens inspired by the Statue of Liberty, which can appear different shades in different light. A custom set of patterns based on half tone textures, Andy Warhol silkscreens and the bright lights of Broadway add depth and a sense of movement to communications. “We want to make sure everything is very layered,” says Lessard.

Central to the new branding is a new set of icons created in partnership with various government agencies, which aim to provide a visual guide to the city. (Lessard says she was keen to create a system that would be useful for visitors who aren’t fluent in English). 250 symbols have been created so far, from icons representing government buildings, transport, hospitals and sports facilities to others in the shape of famous landmarks.

Lessard says the identity aims to reflect New York’s vibrancy and diversity. It’s a challenging task – the city is home to five boroughs, each with their own distinct identity, and eight million residents – but the mix of bold colours, quirky letters, video and photography aim to capture the chaotic and constantly changing nature of the city. “There’s definitely an authenticity that we strive to hit,” she adds. “It’s one of those things that’s incredibly hard to describe, but you know when you have it, and you know when you don’t. I see it coming through in things like our colour palette – we really looked at the colours of the city,” she adds.

Let’s all be frank

Frank is a beauty brand that celebrates our peculiarities. It features products for the face, chest, stomach and, er, nether regions. Each product range is packaged using illustrations that correspond to that part of the body. Stack them up to create some unlikely figures.

Let's Be Frank for D&AD New Blood by Thais Jacoponi de Moura

Creative: Thais Jacoponi de Moura
University: Miami Ad School Madrid

Henry for Monotype

This is Henry. Better known as the most famous typographer from Holland. Henry takes care of all the advertising on the typical Dutch street markets. “And because he’s the only guy who makes these ads,” says student Stefan Apswoude, “the Dutch street markets have a big problem when Henry retires. That’s why we decided to digitise his typeface and name it Henry. This font will be able to be downloaded for a donation. The money will be used to do typography workshops with the aim to find a new Henry.”

Creative: Stefan Apswoude
University: Piet Zwart Institute, Willem de Kooning Academy

Typhographic Packaging