I must first say that I have never visited Melbourne (nor Australia for that matter) so any and all opinions about how this identity reference the peculiarities of the city are based on mere speculation and interpretation from afar. But it doesn’t take a local to recognize the progressive personality of the city and the rich visual landscape in which it thrives. Yesterday, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle unveiled a new identity that will represent the City of Melbourne, and provided plenty of rationale behind the new identity replacing a logo designed in the early 1990s.
“The ‘M’ design will become an icon for Melbourne, synonymous with the modern, vibrant, cool city Melbourne is today and will continue to be in the future.
“The new identity will deliver more impact, be stronger, more flexible and reduce confusion as to who is delivering services. It will build greater long term identification and align with best practice around the world.”
“The new brand is strong and leading edge and will be instantly recognised as belonging to the City of Melbourne.”
— Press Release
The identity design was developed by the Sydney office of Landor and the City of Melbourne paid $A91,000 (US$74,000) in “preliminary research for the new brand” and $A148,000 (US$120,000) for the design itself according to Doyle. Of course, any dollar amount ignites ire in people and it’s so easy to say “$A240,000 for a fat blocky M?”. Yes, that’s what things cost people, get over it. But back to the identity.
There is something very appealing and avant garde about this logo and it walks a fine line between trendy-and-useless and progressive-and-defining, but I think it definitely swings to the latter. There is a really great tension created by the detail and overlay on the left side of the M and how it resolves into something more simple on the right side. The gradients are subtle and help add a sense of depth and breadth that you would not get with a flat logo, which is clearly evident in the 1-color application where the logo looks like a bad diagram in progress and loses its enigmatic feeling from the color version. The type selection is also unconventional and helps set apart the City of Melbourne from all other international cities with common, lowercase sans serifs. As the spreads below show, this identity has impact and adaptability beyond the logo and looks remarkably vibrant, dynamic and multi faceted, which is how I imagine the City of Melbourne to be.