Opened in 1873, Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally to friends) is a culture, sports, and entertainment venue in London, UK, hosting exhibitions, conferences, festivals, corporate events, and more. An Act of Parliament in 1936 established that Alexandra Park and Palace would have to be made available for the free use and recreation of the public forever regardless of who the trustee in charge was. Located in a 196-acre estate, Ally Pally offers eight different rooms and halls within the palace that can accommodate more than 10,000 people. The palace has been host to major events from its inauguration in the late 1800s to serving as a refugee camp in WWI to hosting the world’s first regular high-definition public television broadcast that took place from the BBC studios that were then housed at the Palace. Needless to say, a lot of history has played out here. Recently, coinciding with the planned renovation of its East Court and Victorian theatre, Alexandra Palace is introducing a new identity designed by London-based Lovers. (The identity is not live online yet but has been implemented on site.)
Ally Pally (as it’s fondly known to Londoners) has been a multi-recreational Mecca since 1875. But without a coherent brand identity to champion its historic and contemporary significance, the palace’s efforts were feeling fragmented. Lovers stepped in to help the brand reclaim its cherished place in the hearts of audiences.
No London cultural centre contains as much eclecticism as Ally Pally; music stages, sporting arenas, skate park, theatre, boating lake and 196 acres of parkland. Our ‘pleasure dome simplicity’ logo seeks to put a lid on it all, along with a colour palette that celebrates breadth.
The old logo looked elegant but that was about it, unless we want to unpack the swash in the “A” which was a little stiff and not very useful. The new logo is a direct reference to the iconic arches of Ally Pally’s Great Hall. The length of “ALEXANDRA” lends itself quite well to the arch treatment — especially with book-ending “A”s at the start and end — and works nicely over “PALACE”. Unlike other arch or type-on-a-curve wordmarks that typically look cool but without a particular reason, this one looks cool and AND is warranted. Typeset in Ganby, the arch logo serves as the more serious hinge of the identity.
Complementing the wordmark is an “AP” monogram that can be found physically in certain details of the Palace and provides a charming antique ornament that speaks to the history of the venue. Used large or small, it’s a quirky and peculiar device that provides a striking contrast to the main logo.
To complement the wordmark AND the monogram is a custom font that’s sort of a cross between the serif in the old logo and carnival typography, yielding a very, VERY unique typeface with a lot of personality. It’s hard to hate it because it’s having so much fun just existing. It’s a very unexpected identity element but I like how it’s evocative of the architectural excess of the venue and serves as a way to convey the joy and diversity of the many events that take place here.
Ally Pally’s new brand voice channels a colourful cast of characters from its past and present, borrowing vocal techniques from BBC pioneers, Victorian daredevils and other dreamers. We jotted the recipes in a pocket book for easy reference by the palace’s brand team.
It’s a little hard to judge the actual application as, so far, there isn’t an evident system that comes through in the images shown. Yes, there is the display typeface and Granby but it’s kind of hard to connect the “Whatever Next?” banner with the coaster with the image directly above. But maybe that’s the point… providing these ingredients that can be mixed and matched as necessary depending on the subject matter.
The examples of the signage and wayfinding look great, mixing Granby with some ornate icons. The grate-like applications are excellent, adding to the already rich textures of the building. Overall, without knowing what the old identity used to look like (but I imagine wasn’t much to look at), this is a great update that manages to feel buttoned up, which is something you want as an event manager, as well as loads of fun, which is what you want as a patron.