Established in 2016, Inner West Council is a local government area located in, as its name implies, the inner western region of (not implied) Sydney, Australia. The new council incorporates the former local government areas of Marrickville, Leichhardt, and Ashfield into a 14-square-mile (35-square-kilometer) area that is home to 195,000 residents that make up a “uniquely creative community with vibrant and diverse neighbourhoods living side-by-side in harmony”. Earlier this year, Inner West Council introduced a new identity designed by Sydney-based For The People.
As one of the older areas of Sydney, the Inner West has a long and varied history, having been constantly reshaped and re-purposed by a range of people, across class and industry divides. Because of this, many places in the Inner West have, by necessity, been creatively reimagined many times, using existing structures in new and inventive ways.
The identity has been designed to capture this diversity and creativity that the Inner West is known for. The logo and identity system has been constructed around the iconic places, spaces and historic architectural forms of the area. These are used as a framework to house the progressive ideas, events and perspectives that define Inner West culture. It recognises that the area is a creative place — made so by the local community, the council and the visitors
The old logo was not appealing in any way, with a highly detailed map of the council borders used very large in relationship to the wordmark, which at least wasn’t supper offensive. The new logo introduces a custom wordmark built from bits and pieces of architectural details from the area’s buildings. An early concept put up for vote last year, shows some of the buildings used for reference and the initial idea to use those shapes as part of the visual language (which did find their way to the final application). While a similar approach of building a wordmark out of architectural details could be used for most cities, we haven’t seen many (or any) quite like this and, in my mind and as someone who hasn’t visited, its intricate-ness does manage to convey the diversity and uniqueness of life in Sydney. Granted, this logo could also be for, like, Santa Fe, New Mexico, but let’s keep rolling…
Visually, the primary logo is interesting but the further I stare at it the less I like it and I think it’s the little doors that kill it for me because then I keep seeing each letter like a little urban hobbit abode where someone lives. Aside from that, some of the shapes and the lines inside them are simply not enjoyable, like the “E” or “T” or especially the secondary “e”s — oof. Still, I do enjoy its oddity and energy because it creates a unique and recognizable logo in a city with so many distinguishing areas. The animations are great too.
The wilder variations are cool and fun but I get the feeling they are not going to be used. Same goes for the alternate letter versions of the logo, as the council’s website and social media accounts seem to be sticking to the primary logo, which makes sense… the logo is already strange enough that it might not be worth further confusing people with multiple logo variations.
The applications are pretty good, putting Poppins to good use by deploying it in larger sizes than usual, giving the free font a relatively fresh take. The use of the bigger architectural details in the background or as holding shapes for text work well to create a flexible visual language — the flat things directly above in particular have a bold energy to them that’s very engaging. In all applications, though, the logo seems to fall by the wayside, like it’s hard to spot, passing unperceived.
Overall, despite some of the odd things about the logo and application, there is definitely a clear sense conveyed in the identity that the neighborhoods in this council are unlike others and that there is an inherent energy, diversity, and boldness to it that can not be found in other areas.
Thanks to Simeon King for the tip.