Opinions on corporate and brand identity work.

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This is a very old entry — images are small, formatting is off.

 

Not your Grandparents’ Korean Record Label

YG Entertainment Logo, Before and After

Established in 1996, YG Entertainment is a record label and talent agency based in Seoul, South Korea. It handles everything from casting and talent scouting, to recording and distribution, to artist management, to concert production, to online promotion. Specializing in hip-hop and the now popular K-pop, YG Entertainment represents dozens of artists, most notably due to recent popularity, PSY. Earlier this year YG introduced a revised logo and overhauled identity designed by Seoul-based Plus X. (Although there are plenty of images in this post, this is an edited version of the full range of images that can be seen here).

From the research and Interviews, we learned that YG already has the positive brand images such as ‘Leading’, ‘Creative’, and ‘Extraordinary’. So we decided that YG doesn’t need a ‘Change’ which means totally new makeover, but ‘Evolution’ which means progress by redesigning identity elements and brand system.
Provided text

YG Entertainment and Identity

YG Entertainment and Identity

Custom type family in “edged” and “rounded”.

YG Entertainment and Identity

Sub-brands.

Through the point of ‘Evolution’, YG symbol has been redesigned while maintaining the most of the existing YG symbol which is the company’s valuable asset, but improving formative completeness. Also, we created the brand’s font which is based on the form of YG symbol in order to use it practically in various media as a consistent brand image. To facilitate systematic brand expansion, we built unique brand identity system completing sub-brand symbol in combination with YG symbol and YG’s brand font.
Provided text

YG Entertainment and Identity

Business cards.

YG Entertainment and Identity

Stationery.

YG Entertainment and Identity

CD Envelopes.

YG Entertainment and Identity

Bags.

Not to reveal too much of the inner workings of the Brand New Awards but I think it’s fitting background information: Plus X submitted this work in various categories, as a logo, as animation, as comprehensive identity, and as guideline documents. The judges didn’t select it in any of the categories. I was quite surprised because I really, really liked this. I eventually had to talk them into including the guideline document (brand book towards the end) because it was really a great piece of design, regardless of the identity itself, which clearly didn’t attract them at all, which is fine.

It’s easy to dismiss this project as some futuristic trendy thing, especially when the 1990s gave us so much of this kind of aesthetic signaling what was to come in the twenty-first century. Mainly: Terminators would be the new typesetters. A bleak outlook to be sure. In reality what happened was quite the opposite: instead of graphic design and corporate identity moving into a weird, typographic, futuristic aesthetic it defaulted to nostalgia and vintage appeal, reviving all kinds of old aesthetics from Victorian to Modernism. Rick Valicenti, one of the judges at the BNAs commented that most of the work submitted, while good, it didn’t represent a vision forward for identity design and branding but instead simply operated within what was acceptable and tested before. As the only judged that voted for YG Entertainment’s identity, he described this as an actual new identity language.

While it’s not necessarily new-new — try a search for “futuristic” at T.26 — this identity does feel completely different from much of the work out there. Part of why I like it is that it is absolutely relentless in its application and execution: subtle, elegant, black-on-black, all in that crazy typeface. It’s also extremely important to consider the audience and context. I mean, PSY. This is not Universal Music Group or Sony Music Entertainment, it demands a different visual language that may seem uncomfortable.

This is turning out to be more of a general op-ed than an actual review, so back to basics: The revised logo establishes the angular system and is a nice evolution from the previous one. The font is kind of hard to read at times, but it’s impressive to see what they can do with one to three strokes per letter. The sub-brands get a little hard to decipher and the typography underneath each acronym gets a little wonky in its letterspacing since they are forcing it to justify regardless of the length, so something like “YG ON AIR” reads like “Y G O N A I R”. In application is where this identity really gets fun and where there is some very commendable restraint shown and a weird kind of elegance achieved. This identity isn’t for everybody or for universal tastes… and that’s just fine.

YG Entertainment and Identity

“Brand renewal kit” given to each employee, containing their business cards, ID card, office supplies, and brand book.

YG Entertainment and Identity

Brand book.

YG Entertainment and Identity

YG Entertainment and Identity

YG Entertainment and Identity

Brand book sample spreads.

YG Entertainment and Identity

Stills from motion piece. Unfortunately unavailable online.

 

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