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This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.


Music to my Eyes

Reviewed Sep. 26, 2008 by Brand New

Industry / Culture Tags /

Philadelphia Orchestra Logo, Before and After

Guest Editorial by Kosal Sen

For a world-class organization, the Philadelphia Orchestra had an extremely banal logo. It wasn’t too disappointing, given that the core of their visual presence — event posters, outdoor advertising, banners and such — used this uninspired, “safe” method of art direction. The old logo uses Trajan with the crossbars of the As dropped, probably a nod to musicians familiar with the marcato articulation symbol. This nice little idea would’ve made an okay logotype, but someone thought it was a good idea to improve it with the ever-popular swoosh. But behold, this swoosh had reason, representing the arched roof of the orchestra’s home, the Kimmel Center. Then again, it’s still a swoosh.

With a new orchestral season approaching, a free concert in the works, a new ticket subscription program, partnerships with new sponsors, and the departure of decorated musical director Christoph Eschenbach, the Philadelphia Orchestra doesn’t seem to have any problem with exposure. It just indicates prime opportunity for a rebranding. And overall, I am pleased.

The new logo sports classic Bodoni in red and gray, with a bold and stylishly customized P. The bowl of the P flourishes into a spiral, ending with a ball terminal that imitates the scroll found on many stringed instruments. A great example of how image and type can be fused to form a strong, legible, graphic mark. The formality of the didone typeface in the logo and in headlines is nicely complemented by dynamic photography, as seen on a billboard I spotted on I-95, and their new website. It’s crisp, delightful, and it’s refreshing.

My one complaint is on the scalability of the logo as a whole. The fine detail in Bodoni’s extreme contrasts is lost due to such a huge contrast in scale between the text itself and the mark. I wish the difference wasn’t so much. “Philadelphia Orchestra” is a long phrase, and maybe eliminating the space between them was an attempt to sacrifice space (no pun intended) for increased scale, but it’s not enough. On that billboard I saw, the P was clear, but the words were virtually invisible. Also, I can’t help but be reminded of Pentagram’s logo for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Does it matter, though? It’s not likely that one will be confused for the other.

Aside from these two complaints, the rebranding feels like it’ll be a success. The timing is great, the logo is improved, and the new art direction, from what I have seen so far, is unstaid. Solid job, whoever did this!

Kosal Sen is a designer at Sides Media Studio where spends his most of his time on advertising and branding for interactive and traditional media. He’s also an unshamed perpetuator of typographic humor.



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