Established in 1942, Hammerson is an owner, manager, and developer of retail destinations in Europe. Their portfolio consists of 21 shopping centers (malls) in the UK and France — including the UK’s first covered mall in 1976 — 19 retail parks in the UK, and 15 outlets across Europe, for a combined retail space of 7.2 million square feet (2.2 million square meters). Long operating behind the scenes and as B2B brand, Hammerson is making a concerted effort to make its name better known amongst consumers and gain more brand recognition, starting with a new identity designed by London-based Pentagram partner Harry Pearce.
The masterbrand is centred on the logotype’s hidden H, that gives Hammerson a strong presence, whilst still giving individual centres and surrounding communities a sense of ownership. The invisible H makes clear Hammerson’s quiet personality but essential role.
The new identity is purposefully European, reflecting Hammerson’s presence in the UK and France. The H is both a logotype and symbol, which is adapted for all asset brands. New branding has been created for each centre and retail park, featuring an invisible H next to the centre name, with the location beneath it. This creates continuity throughout all the centres, without imposing Hammerson’s name of them.
I wish the old logo had been for a range of office printers or a commercial printer because then it would have been perfect. The halftone pattern on the mobius strip icon was nicely done and it reduced effectively into an apparent gradient. Even the “mm” ligature was cool but maybe more fitting for something to do with software. (Here is the old identity on Behance.) So, good logo but not the right fit for a developer of shopping centers.
The new logo is more fit for the company by having less personality — not in a bad way — and, in turn, being more adaptable to the myriad properties it’s involved in. The big, hidden “H” is a sophisticated visual trick that should be easy enough to decipher by anyone willing or anyone wondering why a logo is made up of two giant squares. It’s a rare logo in today’s modus operandi in that it has a giant monogram and a sideways wordmark (which uses the OG of geometric sans serifs, Futura) instead of the usual small icon and Circular. I really like the new logo and how the “H” becomes ever more apparent in application.
The extension to other property names is not as successful as the logo, though, where the Hammerson name reinforces the “H” — it’s only if you know where the two giant squares come from that the above image would make sense. Otherwise it starts looking like a bad 1980s brochure with odd graphic elements. This usage probably has value in a brochure for investors or B2B audience when seen in the context of the overall Hammerson presentation as opposed to this being the connecting visual thread that has shoppers realize, “Oh, look honey, Brent Cross is owned by the same company with the hidden H logo as O’Parinor — thank you Hammerson!”.
In application the logo benefits from context and placement that allow the “H” to come forward — the publications image, for example, is particularly good. The logo comes across as bold and confident but also serious and sophisticated. The one complaint I have about the application is that it’s a heck of a lot of Futura: Futura logo, Futura headlines, Futura subheadlines, Futura body copy… if they could control it, the source code of the website would probably be Futura. It’s not the worst thing that could happen but it’s like hitting the same seven keys on a piano over and over. Nonetheless, it’s a well-crafted identity anchored by a catchy logo.