Uncommon’s modular Coventry City of Culture identity references the city’s brutalist history

The design uses a square grid system that applies bold geometric shapes and symbols to represent Coventry’s industries, alongside photos of its residents.

28 July 2020

As Coventry prepares for its stint as the UK City of Culture in 2021, design studio Uncommon has unveiled its brand identity for the festival, titled Coventry Moves. As the name implies, the modular identity comes to life in various motion graphics, using its bold icons as cogs in a whirring machine symbolising the city.

The design uses a square grid system to which a suite of geometric shapes can be added in various combinations, along with the aforementioned icons – eight circular symbols that each represent a prevalent industry that has played an important role in making Coventry what it is today. The symbols (going from top left to bottom right in the image below) represent textiles, clocks and watches, bicycles, automotive, aircraft, music, green tech, and peace and reconciliation.

The geometric motifs draw from Coventry’s architecture. The city was devastated by bombing during the Second World War and saw a huge rebuild afterwards, making its architecture largely modernist and brutalist in style. Uncommon’s identity embraces this, not just by visually referencing its buildings but also its spirit of movement and growth, the graphics sliding and spinning over the top of photos of residents, hoping to pay tribute to its people, cultures and history. Among the brand elements is also an icon of Coventry’s famous cathedral, and its elephant – a centuries-old symbol of the city from its official crest.

Look further and even the strong blue colour chosen to dominate the identity has its roots in the city’s heritage. Working with museum The Weaver’s House, the team explored the city’s medieval past as a centre of the UK’s textile industry, and found a colour first used in Coventry and now seen across the city: Coventry Blue. The brand uses a “modern-day standard” of the hue, called Moving Blue.

Uncommon also created a launch film for the identity and the City of Culture programme, using archive footage alongside showcasing the graphic design. It features “pivotal moments and iconic locations” from Coventry’s history, including Coventry City’s 1987 FA cup win, the city’s Two-Tone scene, the Belgrade theatre and even its infamous ring road. The score is an adaptation of We are all Stardust from the film Out of the Blue, provided by composer Clint Mansell – a Coventry-born Grammy and Golden Globe nominee who scored Black Swan, High Rise and Requiem for a Dream.

Uncommon’s identity will feature in an OOO campaign across Coventry as well as being rolled out to all comms and merch around the festival next year. The year-long event series starts in May 2021 with details being announced later in 2020.

GalleryUncommon: Coventry City of Culture

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny (she/her) is online editor of It’s Nice That, overseeing the website’s daily editorial output. She was previously news editor for five years. Contact her with stories, pitches and tips relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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