Established in 1910 after the discovery of a copper ore deposit in Eastern Finland that led to successful mining, Outokumpu — which translates into strange (outo) mound (kumpu) according to Google Translate — is now one of the leading global manufacturers of stainless steel and high performance alloys. For example: they produce the material, T316L to be precise, that was used to construct Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” (or “The Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park. In 2012 Outokumpu acquired Inoxum, the stainless steel arm of ThyssenKrupp, making it an even bigger company with 16,000 employees in more than 40 countries. At the end of May, the company introduced a new logo designed by Helsinki-based N2 Nolla and a new vision, “a world that lasts forever”.
The resulting identity is a (re)cycle symbol — the forever ‘O’ — created from stainless steel, expressed through typography and colour palette, emphasising the structural and creative qualities of Outokumpu’s stainless steel and high performance alloys. The brand level imagery visualises the forever brand message through a sense of time — the past, motion, and captured personal moments.
Even though the default reaction to the new logo should be of disapproval for being not much more than a pretty rendering, the approach and execution are anything but gratuitous. The company makes the material from which forms like their new logo are built. It’s also a very nice rendering and the icon is something I could see as an actual object, either a giant structure or a small pendant on a necklace. My favorite aspect of the icon is the decision to have it reflect the color of the type next to it. It’s a very nice detail that connects the flat typography with the overly dimensional icon. It is also extremely adaptable to any background: browse through their website and see how good the icon looks on every photograph. This is a very rare feat.
As part of the renewal, we collaborated with Tomi Haaparanta, directed by Brian Kaszonyi, to create a new font family that would share stainless steel’s “building block” qualities as well as bring to the human and creative sides of the new brand attritubes alive.
The resulting type family has a sympathetic, modern core yet can almost go backwards and forwards in time and style by adding or subtracting serifs and structural lines — a good reference to Outokumpu’s rich history which extends back to landmarks such as the Chrysler Building through to today’s Helix Bridge.
The typography is very interesting on its own, especially the multi-layered approach. But it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the icon or with the stainless steel material. It’s far too friendly and makes me think more of plastic than steel. Even the plain, sans serif style feels at odds with the icon. The slab starts to feel more appropriate but even then it doesn’t feel like the right fit.
In application there isn’t much to see and the layered typography doesn’t even appear so far and the icon is what makes everything work, from the large, cropped versions on stage to the smaller applications on the stationery. In summary: great icon but ditch the type.
Thanks to Kitty Kitty [sic] for the tip.