the barbican's new visual identity by north
the barbican's new visual identity by north the barbican's new visual identity by north
sep 12, 2013

the barbican's new visual identity by north

the barbican’s new visual identity by north
top image: brand guidelines book cover


north have revamped the identity of europe’s largest arts center, the barbican in london.


the barbican presents a diverse mix of music, theatre, dance, film and visual arts events. but its large and complex programme meant that communications had tended to focus on smaller art form specific stories with less emphasis on the bigger story, the barbican. north’s challenge was to re-focus the organisation and define what binds and unifies its diverse range of events and products and to allow for a more focused public message.





the barbican’s proposition needed to be a core message that demonstrates that the barbican is something in its own right, not a shell for individual art forms, an expression of the ‘whole’ as opposed to letting audiences add up the sum of the parts they know, a basis on which to build messages for and about the whole. a new proposition was also an opportunity to take the onus and strain off art forms and sub-brands to explain what the barbican difference was and offered a direction for single-minded communication.





after extensive audience research the barbican’s proposition has been articulated as ‘arts without boundaries’. allowing artists and audiences to cross art form boundaries and emphasizing collaboration and partnership. it is strong, determined, clear sighted and bold.







the new visual identity needed to address two critical areas:


1. to respond to the new proposition. although the previous visual identity unified the organization under a consistent typeface and logo, prominent sub brands with distinctive graphic treatments developed to support specific ‘art form’ areas of the programme fractured and weakened the brand. an opportunity now existed to allow all products to sit directly and comfortably under the barbican brand, to simplify communications and strip back unnecessary visual clutter.


2. to be multi-platform, to live within a digital age, to be flexible and dynamic. the former visual identity was developed to exist within printed communication; a logo that bled off the ‘page’, a brand identity that didn’t scale well.’







recognizing the strengths that exist within the original identity – the futura font, the logo – the new visual identity deconstructs the logo into its two component parts – the ‘word mark’ and the ‘carrier’ within which the word mark is contained. this allows for a dynamic and flexible identity, but one with a strong, bold and unifying visual language. the new visual identity runs across all touch points for the organization.





along with the new identity guidelines north have also worked on several poster and advertising campaigns for the barbican which demonstrate the new identity in use.













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