Southbank Centre reveals first rebrand in 10 years, inspired by Brutalism

The London-based culture and art hub, which is composed of four venues, has been given a new visual identity by studio North, dropping the Wolff Olins branding designed in 2007.

North has designed a new visual identity for London cultural institution Southbank Centre to give it a more “consistent” and less “complex” brand, says the studio.

Southbank Centre, based in Lambeth, is Europe’s largest cultural and arts venue and is one of the top five most popular visitor destinations in the UK. It runs festivals, exhibitions, art installations, and talk and performance programmes.

The previous identity, by Wolff Olins

The new identity replaces the one designed by Wolff Olins in 2007, which looked to bring together Southbank Centre’s four venues – Royal Festival Hall, Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery – under one brand.

The result was a visual identity with an all-caps, sans-serif logotype and multiple, changing geometric patterns, which aimed to use “many singular elements” to “create an ever new series of outcomes”, says Wolff Olins.

This aimed to represent a more modern way of considering art, where particular disciplines are not “confined to particular buildings”, “nor performances to a stage or audiences to seats”.

This year’s rebrand follows the refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery in 2015, and so is part of an overall revamp for the Southbank Centre.

The new logo features a serif, black logotype set against a yellow background. The typeface is a bespoke version of Noe Display, created by type foundry Schick Toikk, and has been used across communications for events, exhibitions and separate galleries.

The simple branding works like a “masthead” for a magazine, says North, which aims to make the brand “recognisable”, give it consistency and let festivals, performances and shows “be more freely expressed”.

The magazine approach positions the centre’s weekly and monthly programme as “content”, says Sean Perkins, founding partner at North, enabling materials for different events to be individually designed in a similar way to features in a magazine.

The typeface used has been inspired by Southbank Centre’s brutalist architecture, adds Charlie De Grussa, designer at North, defined by the serif logotype’s harsh edges. It is also based on the original identity for Festival of Britain, a national exhibition founded in 1951 which went on to become the Southbank Centre.

The new visual identity will roll out over the next six months across print marketing materials, interior signage and wayfinding and online, replacing materials as they run out to reduce costs and waste, says the studio.

North will continue to work on branding projects for the Southbank Centre, with the reopening of the Hayward Gallery set for January 2018, accompanied by a retrospective exhibition on German photographer Andreas Gurksy.

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