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Moulin Rouge does the Typographic Cancan

Reviewed May. 25, 2010 by Brand New

Industry / Entertainment Tags /

Moulin Rouge Logo, Before and After

As French as the Eiffel Tower or Champagne, the Moulin Rouge Cabaret is an integral part of the history and culture of France and has been on the sightseeing trail of visitors since it was founded in 1889, in the Pigalle red light district, close to Montmartre, Paris. Birthplace of the famous Cancan dance, the red Windmill on its roof is a landmark on the city’s horizon and an iconic symbol of cabaret and nightlife worldwide. Long associated with the avant-garde and leading artists, with some of its early posters designed by none other than Toulouse-Lautrec, the Moulin Rouge has a long design heritage but was in dire need of an overhaul, having drifted into a popular, mass market experience with a cheap and tacky product image. The 120th anniversary of the Moulin Rouge is the occasion to roll out a new brand identity that pays homage to the legend and communicates the magic with a resolutely contemporary brand. Four agencies competed in the in the design pitch, proposing over 40 different proposals, according to this interview with the eventual winners, Paris-based agency John Brightman.

The previous logotype, a rather inelegant pair of red lips formed from the M and U in the name, a generic script typeface and a small, stylized windmill icon was a rather confused, illegible collection of elements that lacked coherence and impact. The inspiration for the red lips lay in the distinctive, graphic style of French designer and illustrator Rene Gruau, who produced a famous series of posters for the Moulin Rouge in the 1950s.

The brief was to rethink the identity of the Moulin Rouge as a global brand which encompassed all the current activities of the cabaret (The show, brand licence, franchises…). […] To make it above all representative, simple and dynamic with a touch of “enchantment.” […] The aim was really to revamp the windmill, to make it more feminine and glamorous! That’s why we thought of producing it in different shades of red, large and vibrant.
Interview with Stephane Gautier, Pauline Nicolas, Francois Gatault of John Brightman

Moulin Rouge

Corporate version of the logo.

Moulin Rouge

Licensing version of the logo.

The new brand — made up of two different logos, one for corporate use and the other for licensing — is strong, simple and reflects the typographic feel of the Moulin Rouge’s neon signs and its windmill sails with understated sophistication. A colour palette of silver grey and deep red, with a subtle drop shadow to the type, communicates a premium feel. The new brand firmly re-positions the Moulin Rouge as a premium experience that will enable it to continue to attract performers like Edith Piaf, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Elton John, and to attract the spectators who consume an impressive 240,000 bottles of Champagne a year during the show.

Moulin Rouge

Illustration style.

Paul Vickers is a corporate branding, product branding and packaging Creative Director and Consultant with extensive international experience. Paul is British, bilingual and lives in Paris. He is an international correspondent for Brand New.



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