Design collective Lovers has created a new identity for North London venue Alexandra Palace, inspired by its eccentric history and architecture. The studio was briefed by Alexandra Palace to bring renewed energy to the organisation’s brand identity, to help it reassert itself publicly “as a very special and unique place within London’s cultural landscape”, Lovers creative director Alex Ostrowski tells It’s Nice That. The rebrand coincides with the planned renovation of Alexandra Palace’s East Court and Victorian theatre. “The senior team at the palace felt this was the right time to bring some love to the brand, which had become a little wooden typographically and in tone of voice,” adds Alex.
Lovers looked to the palace’s history as a space for public recreation – a function enshrined by an act of parliament – to develop the look and feel of the new brand. It was important that the identity was able to sit comfortably with the huge range of entertainment found at the palace, from darts to Grime gigs, model railway conventions to ice skating to beer festivals. “Ally Pally is like a fun mirror being held up to the British people, as it reflects what they want to do in their spare time,” says Alex. “We wanted to conjure a sense of respect for that long lineage, whilst ensuring we rooted the brand firmly in the present day.”
The new identity hinges around two typefaces, “original and charismatic” Palace Display and the straighter Granby. “We thought [the former] should feel simultaneously palatial and grand, yet also super-fun and not stuck up,” says Alex. “Palace Display has a lovely sense of elegance but it’s also really chunky and you can chuck it around a bit.” Sans serif Granby plays the elegant supportive role with more structure, says Alex. “With Granby we’re channelling the glory days of British travel for leisure – there actually used to be a station at Ally Pally which shipped in revellers.”
For the logo itself, Lovers wanted to create something distinguished but not boring, “channelling some of the acrobatics of the old Victorian daredevils, without making the institution seem non-credible or whacky”. It features the word “Alexandra” arched like a rainbow over “Palace” in typeface Granby, hinting at the domes and arches seen around the building. “The logo implies ‘one big roof’ under which all this diverse fun and recreation takes place,” points out the creative director. “It also has a whiff of history about it, reminiscent of some of the signs you might see on simple Victorian high street establishments, or an old gin bottle found under the seats in the reawakened Victorian theatre, without becoming overbearingly historical.” This logo has been used for signage on site as well as in the printed materials, stationary and tickets, while elsewhere an oval containing the letters “AP” in Palace Display have been used as a stamp-like marque, especially on merchandise.
To coincide with the visual rebrand, Lovers also delivered a tone of voice book for the company, which they called “Ally Parlez”, with space for the team to update it as the venue evolves. Lovers also wanted to use the rebrand as an opportunity for audiences to reminisce about the time they’d spent at the palace, encouraging this through collages of former performers on its tickets and new beer mats featuring stars like John Lennon and Yoko Ono. “Beer mats felt like a really simple way to inject conversation about the palace’s history into its pub ‘The Phoenix’, a natural space for reminiscing.”