From Lonely Planet: Surrounded by vineyards, rolling down a trio of hillsides to the lakeshore, [Lausanne is] Switzerland’s fourth-largest city […] The city is known for its upbeat vibe, perhaps on account of its enviable location […] and its high-brow though party-hearty student population - Lausanne’s EPFL Research Institute is considered Europe’s version of Boston’s MIT. The headquarters of the International Olympic Committee are here, as well as unique museums undergoing exciting transformations and a new aquarium contrasting with the city’s Gothic Old Town.” Earlier this year, the City of Lausanne introduced a new identity designed by the Geneva, Switzerland, office of Base.
Our challenge was to reconcile the rich past of this storied city with the municipality’s need to modernize its identity and communication system.
The new identity is rooted in two essential elements that pay homage to Lausanne’s long-established traditions: the resurgence of the lion as a symbolic representation of the city. And a custom contemporary typeface, called “Lausanne,” serving as necessary reminder of its history.
The old logo — which it looks like it remains in use by Lausanne tourism — was okay with its (what I’m guessing was a) rising sun spreading over a tracked out slab serif wordmark (both elements that feel very un-Swiss-like) but its length was problematic and as a logo to be used for city administration purposes, the sun may have been too relaxed. The new logo revives the lions from Lausanne’s heraldry past and pairs them with the bare coat of arms shield shape. The lions are quite nicely done with a minimal yet ornate execution that works great with the simple shield and abstract crown. The new icon is paired with a custom font that builds on the sans serif Swissness that we all love the Swiss for with a custom take on the Humanist sans serif. The “a”s are super nice and the rest is all fine. In the stacked lock-up of the logo, the thicknes relationship between the icon and the type is quite pleasant.
We began by analyzing the city’s coat of arms, from which we drew a font with unusual proportions. The typeface features lowercase letters that are ⅔ the size of the capital letters. The result is a simple, warm, and coherent visual language supported by a typeface with distinct character.
Since the 1950s, Switzerland has been typographically synonymous with simple, rational, and legible fonts—like Helvetica or Univers. These fonts have become the symbol of modernity and timelessness. Rather than piggybacking on the success of these particular fonts, we decided to combine the bold use of the color red with a contemporary return to the inherent Swiss-style to give the municipality of Lausanne an intrepid voice.
I’m not going to rhapsodize much more about the font. It’s nice and all but it doesn’t yield any further strong emotions from me.
The applications have a nice relationship with the icon, by echoing the white/red combination and sometimes even replicating the ratio. It looks slick, minimalist, and very Swiss. The single weight approach of the typography gives it cool hipstery vibe but having the coat of arms icon present keeps it serious-looking as well.
Overall, this now looks like you would expect a Swiss city government identity to look like which is both praise in how good it looks and performs but also light criticism in the sense that it’s nothing entirely new under the sun… that’s what the old logo said.