Established in 1975 (originally as the Swiss Film Center Foundation), SWISS FILMS is, as its name suggests, the representative and ambassador nationally and internationally for Swiss film productions while offering film directors and producers promotional services and facilitating international distribution of their film productions. Recently, SWISS FILMS introduced a new identity designed by Zurich-based Studio NOI.
The new corporate design was conceived and developed by the Swiss graphic designers Corina Neuenschwander and Simone Koller at Studio NOI in Zurich. It is based on the “Heidi Maria” font specifically adapted for SWISS FILMS by the typographer Phil Baber, featuring a concise logo that can be used in a variety of ways, as well as dialogue quotations from current Swiss film productions, animated visuals and silver as an accent colour. These five elements provide the presence with a clear, strong identity and a high recognition value.
The new logo is characterised by both sleekness and a wide scope. A compact version will be used as the logo, but in SWISS FILMS publications the words SWISS and FILMS can be set apart, analogous to brackets. As a result, the logo allows for varied contents whilst creating space for clever puns and campaigns.
The old logo was as un-Swiss as it could get, mostly because it wasn’t in Helvetica, which I acknowledge is kind of a graphic-design-prejudice-stereotype but the old logo looked like an exercise in “Let’s choose the least Swiss typeface” and the result was Copperplate Gothic, which… c’mon. Also, it emphasized the wrong thing — what’s important is that these films are Swiss not that these Swiss things are films. The new logo does right by the name with a too-cool-for-school sans serif, Maria, by Phil Baber. I don’t like it any more than I don’t like cement — it’s dry and lifeless but it does its job. The application makes the logo a little more interesting but still within striking distance of the current trend of graphic design Brutalism.
In application, the logo’s two words separate and fully justify in the layout. It kinda, sorta looks cool but there really isn’t much more depth or interest to it. Along with the rest of the typography in the posters, the applications gain some traction in creating layouts with literal tension by placing words far apart from each other and the introduction of quotes in Times New Roman kinda, sorta (again, sorry) is interesting but it feels too much like a design exercise in contrasts. I will admit that, despite my grievances, there is something visually engaging about all this.
The identity is at its best in physical situations, as in the stand and pavilion at Locarno and Cannes film festivals, where the white panels and the light wood provide the typography a better canvas than the patchwork of movie stills and they exude the type (pun!) of Swiss-ness one might expect. Overall, this is a major improvement simply because the old logo was SO wrong and it gives the organization a flexible system to work and convey its Swiss-ness but, design-wise, it gives me a case of the sans serif doldrums.