WHAT’S IN A LOGO?
Sometimes your first idea is your best idea, as Werklig’s Anssi Kähärä and Hannu Hirstiö explain
Originally we were reluctant to make a logo at all. For a long time, we were trying to come up with a more type-driven solution – a no-logo philosophy, if you will. However, during the process we realised that the identity was missing something; something emphatic, concrete and striking that could be used as a standalone element.
We started crafting a logo. The idea of combining H for Helsinki and a heart symbol to convey the museum’s concept of ‘Fall in love with Helsinki’ felt so cheesy, obvious and so simple that it had to be tried. It was almost the first idea so we partially resisted using it, but like in many other cases, the most obvious first idea can be the best. Pretty much everyone fell in love with the logo when it was sketched and presented.
We tweaked some of the shapes slightly, but the final version is quite close to the initial sketches. The biggest discussion was about whether to use it filled, as an outline, or a combination of both. We pushed for using it as an outline. Semiotically, this could represent transparency, and practically, it gives the designer more freedom.
It was evident that we should use one of the custom typefaces we designed for the logo. Some minor adjustments were made so we could match the logo outline and type stroke width nicely together.
eventually included 14 colours, but is meant to be used in a minimalist fashion.
The client gave us a lot of feedback along the way, and we bounced ideas back and forth with them. Yes, there were disagreements, but designer Hannu Hirstiö and I worked with them in a constructive way. The process was very positive, and was also agile.
THE FINAL VERDICT
Our timeline was carefully planned so there was no last minute panic, but there were some scary moments. The renovation of the building the museum was going into had its own timeline, and we found out at one point that we’d only have two weeks to create the signage. The typefaces were only just in progress and we had to finalise them in a fortnight! Our designer Hannu made this particular miracle happen.
We haven’t heard anything negative, so that’s been super nice. The client loves the identity, and when the museum reopened it was supported by an outdoor campaign as well as social media. The goal for the year was 200,000 visitors, and they reached that number in just four months. The museum also received lots of domestic and international press coverage, and was nominated for the prestigious 2016 Leading Culture Destination Awards in the New Museums of the Year category.
If a project goes smoothly, receives only positive feedback, and is loved by both the client and the public, what can you say? A success like this is not only nice to have but it generates publicity and further business. For instance, at the moment we are working on a full redesign of the identity for the City of Helsinki. The museum work might have been a vital factor in why the city chose to work with us on this project.
I think the key is our design partnership model, and we’re looking for more clients who want to use that approach. We’re doing more and more international work every year, and we love to export our Finnish/Nordic design approach around the world.
Still working on the no-logo approach, but varying the type across the museum’s name.
The heart-H logo came as an inspiration. Next, to try it with the full title of the museum.
The stacked museum title top left, with bespoke type.
An initial test – the mark would have been the museum’s name.