Jodrell Bank, a radio telescope, rebrands with a spinning logo that searches the skies

Taking months of work to get exactly the right “turn”, the rotating logo is accompanied by a Judy Jetson-era identity from Johnson Banks.

Date
13 April 2022

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Space: the final frontier – unless we’re talking about design and illustration, where the theme has been explored in almost every which way. This abundance of visual references did, however, mean Johnson Banks was “slightly spoiled for choice” when it came to working on the design consultancy’s latest rebrand for Jodrell Bank, a famous radio telescope and astronomical observatory in Macclesfield. Brilliantly colliding vintage futurist references with threads from science fiction, the identity comes together with a logo that mirrors the rotation of the giant telescope itself – which was as complex a process as it sounds.

Firstly, the consultancy had to develop a logo that could be placed alongside images of the dish itself without clashing; “It took weeks of experimentation to find a way to do this successfully,” explains the Johnson Banks case study, and months more “to get the animation to turn just right,” Johnson Banks founder, Michael Johnson, tells us. The result spins and sways on an axis like its real-life counterpart, with the ability to “freeze” for static assets. The case study adds that it can also facilitate scene switches, creating a “hypnotic effect” as the logo appears to invert.

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Johnson Banks: Jodrell Bank (Copyright © Jodrell Bank, 2022)

This theme of circularity and rings, with its obvious connotations to the cosmos, is present throughout the project, drawing links to the likes of satellites, Sputnik and planetary rings. Johnson Banks has taken this a step further though, emphasising the welcoming, customer-facing side of Jodrell Bank with “space race” aesthetics. Söhne was chosen as a typographic family “because it has a nice 60s vibe and links to Jodrell’s role in the space race – and is a really great type family in its own right,” explains Michael Johnson. “We also merrily mined the fact that there’s a sci-fi/science-geek quality to Jodrell Bank due to its history (and showing up in Doctor Who) – by bringing in those subtle little science jokes in the body copy.”

While phrases like “When you wish upon a quasar” line in the supporting copy, Johnson Banks has also developed typographic stickers for more light-hearted communications. Things get slightly more technical for the colour palette where “Redshift” alludes to the longer wavelengths at the end of the spectrum where the science of radio astronomy operates; other colours include the off-white “Dish” of the telescope.

Having never had a visual identity “that did justice to the site’s achievements, or a verbal platform to talk to its many different non-academic audiences,” says the case study, Jodrell Bank’s new brand aims to “encapsulate the sense of curiosity and wonder” that the attraction instils, for all those who visit in the future.

GalleryJohnson Banks: Jodrell Bank (Copyright © Jodrell Bank, 2022)

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Johnson Banks: Jodrell Bank (Copyright © Jodrell Bank, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. After graduating in Film from The University of Bristol, she worked freelance, writing for independent publications such as Little White Lies, INDIE magazine and design studio Evermade.

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