North reveals full Science Museum rebrand, and reacts to online criticism

11 October 2017

Design studio North has unveiled its full visual identity for the Science Museum Group, after the new logo was revealed last week. The rebrand incorporates all the museums in the group, aiming to give them a visual cohesion and convey a “shared vision”.

This newly unified approach includes treating all its collections as one single group collection, instigating shared programming between the museums, and revamping the web estate and logo to “better reflect the development of the brand in recent years”. North was commissioned in summer 2016 to develop a visual language to articulate this, and “ignite curiosity among people of all ages and backgrounds,” the studio says.

The design is therefore based on the concept of illumination, depicted through a gradated font weight in the logo and the use of a colour spectrum across the identity. North worked with type foundry Fontseek to create a customised font, SMG Sans, which is uniwidth (the same width across weights). The studio says this allows typography to retain a consistent shape and position when the font weight changes and animates in different applications.

“For the Science Museum this typographic expression suggests moments of inspiration, change and progress,” explains North. “At the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, it evokes the rise of light and sound technologies such as photography and film; and at the National Railway Museum, York, and Locomotion in Shildon, the font could convey notions of steam, motion and speed.” The studio also worked with photographer Lee Mawdsley on a library of imagery for the group and digital agency Numiko on the web design.

When the logo was unveiled last week, Johnson Banks – the designers behind the museum’s previous identity – reacted strongly on social media, calling it “a bit of a clunker” and sharing numerous negative tweets about the work. The studio has since said it was “a bit hasty with its critique” and published a lengthier reaction on its blog.

In reaction to the onslaught, North’s Louis Mikolay sent us the following comment:

“For me it is a compliment to the work that the public are widely discussing the project and that it has divided opinion so strongly. I believe that the best work pisses some people off – I’m not interested in creating mediocre work that everyone agrees on, I’ll leave that for other studios.”

The quotes in this article were changed on 11/10/17.

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Jenny Brewer

Jenny oversees our editorial output across work, news and features. She was previously It’s Nice That's news editor. Get in touch with any big creative stories, tips, pitches, news and opinions, or questions about all things editorial.

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