Computer Arts - - Werklig For Helsinki City Museum -

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.


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.

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