Established in 1882, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra (Helsingin kaupunginorkesteri in Finnish) is a 102-musician orchestra based in Helsinki, Finland, playing most of its concerts at Helsinki Music Centre. At the turn of the twentieth century the Orchestra hosted most of the performances by Jean Sibelius — Finland’s greatest composer — who conducted them himself. Today, the Orchestra plays about 39 concerts for a total of more than 100,000 people a year. This February, the organization introduced a new identity designed by local firm Bond. (While this is technically “old” and outside our range of publishing dates, Bond just posted the case study last week and the work is very much worth a look).
In a series of workshops the new positioning and identity was crystallized; the power and energy of the music is the orchestra’s driving force. The new visual identity brings alive Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra’s core, all 102 musicians, in both logo and photographic concept.
The previous logo was pretty much what you would expect from a philharmonic, with a swooping script monogram and pretty serif. Nothing wrong with it at all but plain forgettable. The new logo is the complete opposite, going from soft and subtle to bold and loud. Typeset in Klim Type Foundry’s Founders Grotesk in all uppercase, the logo conveys great confidence and strength. Its visual hook is that the wordmark is accompanied by the names of all 102 musicians in the orchestra or thick lines representing those same names. It’s probably the best employee retention strategy ever: “Sorry, Matilda, you can’t quit and join the competing orchestra, your name is in the logo and we can’t change it just because of you.”
Kidding aside, it’s a wonderfully inclusive gesture for the musicians that also serves as a metaphor for how each person, each sound, contributes to create something bigger with its own rhythm as the logo generates a sound wave shape when reproduced smaller. The logo can also be used horizontally or vertically with the names/lines running in a single stack, allowing for really interesting layouts.
The identity also relies on time-lapse photos that, while cool on their own, take away some of the bad-assed-ness of the identity.
In application, the identity is wonderful with perfect typesetting, the tried-and-true color combination of red black and white, and the different compositions of the logo. It looks consistent without feeling repetitive and it comes across as elegant without being stodgy. Overall, this strikes every right note without trying too hard.
Thanks to Brandemia for the tip.