Studio Output creates a “deliberately unconventional” identity for a foundation defending liberal societies
Creating a new visual identity and online platform for The Alfred Landecker Foundation, the London-based studio utilise contrasting design aesthetics to support its significant mission.
- Lucy Bourton
- 19 July 2021
London-based agency Studio Output has created a new visual identity and editorial platform for The Alfred Landecker Foundation (ALF). A foundation which exists to defend liberal societies and protect democratic structures, the studio’s team worked to support this significant mission – especially in light of the rise of nationalism and hatred directed at minorities – communicating the sensitive but empowering nature of the foundation’s work through several thoughtful design details.
For example, at the heart of the foundation “is the idea of frail structures that are under threat,” explains a release on the project by Studio Output. In turn, the agency’s approach is to dually display this structure, while displaying bravery to create a brand that is challenging and provocative. This is shown through details such as the foundation’s monogram logo, designed with a “contrast of fine hairlines resisting the dominant, heavy strokes applying pressure.” This tone of voice is also displayed through Studio Output’s typographic design, set at “unusual angles to add to the sense of discontent, with hover states shifting the content off-balance,” as well as its decision to use “deliberately uncomfortable colour combinations” to draw attention to more confrontational topics. In fact, across its approach for the foundation Studio Output are “deliberately unconventional” – even ALF’s site is designed and built around the tension of two principles: “The frailty of democracy against the chaos in the world, and a call-to-arms to build a civil response and do better.”
Studio Output’s involvement with The Alfred Landecker Foundation began through the referral of an existing client, “as often happens,” Bahar Shahidi, senior strategist at the studio tells It’s Nice That. In particular though, working with the foundation was appealing to the studio as a project which “captured everyone’s imagination,” Shahidi continues. The last activism-led project the studio had worked on was in 2017, providing the brand identity and digital design for RizeUp, a party-neutral movement aimed at young people, the homeless and the economically deprived. “Like a lot of agencies, our time in lockdown led to us looking for more meaning and impact in our work. Here was a client who wanted to provoke a positive change in the world, and they wanted to be really bold about it. This meant a lot to us.”
To begin, the original brief from ALF was to just create a new digital platform, “but early in the process the client asked us to look at the logo too,” relays Studio Output’s senior digital designer, Sam Hodges. This allowed the studio to “think more holistically about communicating the brand’s character through the site,” developing both side by side. “We always work in this way, to see how identity can live through digital modules. We view brand identity through a digital lens.”
However with the foundation’s identity the first step from the studio was to tackle its long name, as “From a practical point of view we knew we’d need to create a shorthand mark, and the AL monogram was a logical outcome of this,” explains Hodges. Additionally this created room for the studio “to create something more expressive,” hence those aforementioned weak hairlines which are “pressured by external forces but are resisting.” This was then extended into design concepts in the holistic approach Hodges describes, both in how the type is set and the colour choices on the site. Split into five key themes, such as “Strengthen democracy” or “Combat antisemitism”, each section has its signature colour pairing “harmonious for more academic content, or deliberately clashing for more controversial subjects”. Throughout all of these design attributes is a key intention: “to create an experience which is more immersive. It’s challenging at times, to create a reaction.”
Implementing such a powerful design strategy for the foundation was also built from early chemistry meetings between Studio Output and ALF. Revealing “how keen they were for a step change” and to move away from its current academic-feeling site, the foundation encouraged the studio to act bravely, “and were quite taken aback with how far we were able to push them,” adds Shahidi.
Recently released (the new editorial site for ALF can be viewed here), the studio hope its approach to such a meaningful and vital organisation displays how it can “work across brand and digital product simultaneously,” says Hodges. “It shows how effective the result can be when everyone is focused on the same goal, and each aspect of the project informs the other.” Whereas for ALF, this visual update represents “a meaningful impact and shifting behaviour,” continues the designer. “They’re looking to engage people who wouldn’t otherwise have a way to get involved with these topics. But they need to do that while being recognised as a credible voice in democratic debate. That’s why there’s a rigour to the work, it needs to withstand scrutiny rather than being sensationalist.” And finally, for both teams involved “it demonstrates what you can achieve with a brave client who puts trust in their agency partner. Even if your subject matter is serious you can still be bold and ambitious.”
GalleryStudio Output: The Alfred Landecker Foundation (Copyright © Studio Output, 2021)
Studio Output: The Alfred Landecker Foundation (Copyright © Studio Output, 2021)
About the Author
Lucy (she/her) joined It’s Nice That as a staff writer in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In January 2019 she was made deputy editor and in November 2021, became a senior editor predominantly working on It’s Nice That's partnerships. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about creative projects for the site or potential partnerships.