Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv redesigns Warner Bros. identity ahead of centenary

Warner Bros. new shield was designed to evoke its 1948 emblem with a corresponding typeface that complements the WB letterforms.

Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv has redesigned the identity and for the entire family of Warner Bros. brands featuring a more “streamlined” shield logo and a typeface that echoes the letterforms within it.

Since its founding in 1923, Warner Bros. has collated an extensive content library of movies and TV shows, including films such as Casablanca and My Fair Lady, as well as contemporary hits such as Harry Potter and The Batman. In addition to Warner Bros. Pictures and Studios, the Warner Bros. brand family comprises other television, videogame and animation divisions.

Ahead of its 100-year anniversary, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv designed the identity for the holding company Warner Bros. Discovery in 2022, including a newly drawn WB shield which informed the most recent designs. From May 2023, the new shield will take over as the official logo for the consumer-facing Warner Bros. family of brands.

This is the second redesign that Warner Bros. has undergone in the past four years, having previously not been updated since 1993. The 2019 redesign, led by Pentagram partner Emily Oberman, saw the banner on the shield removed and it remains absent in the latest design by Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.

Taking influence from the 1948 Warner Bros. emblem – which studio partner and designer Sagi Haviv describes as being “synonymous with cinematic creativity” – Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv sought to refine the design further. The studio was conscious of eliminating the more “dated” elements of the 1948 shield, such as “the dimensionality and the gradient colouring”, says Haviv, instead favouring “reductive geometry, streamlined curves” and brighter hues. While the previous shield was three-dimensional, the new shield is flat.

Haviv says the redrawing process involved “equalizing the weight of the W and B letterforms with the stroke of the encasing shield shape”, which aims to improve the “consistency of line weight”. One of the main goals was to make each element of the symbol more harmonious, resulting in “a unified, timeless symbol” that works across the company’s whole portfolio, he adds.

For example, in previous logos the B had created a hole in the top right of the icon but now, since being redrawn, it fits neatly into the shield.

The studio devised two different iterations of the shield: a solid version to be used primarily for corporate communication, and an outline rendition which will promote its movie, TV and games content. Both are designed to be able to adapt to the background colors and textures of creative content, which Haviv says provides “a consistent canvas for the visual artists at the Warner Bros. family of brands”.

“On an Elvis movie poster for example, you would want a gold shield, but the blue may not fit, while on a Batman poster, you would want just a red shield”, says Haviv.

Since Warner Bros.’ existing typeface was informed by Pentagram’s 2019 designs, Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv created a new bespoke typeface called Warner Bros. Bold Condensed, drawn with similar characteristics to the revised WB letters in the shield. Haviv describes it as a “strong sans serif” which appears in all-capital letters for the wordmark, adding that it “accentuates the curvature of the rounded letterforms”, such as the Ps, Bs, and Rs. The typography update also seeks to improve legibility, according to Haviv.

“Balancing the strategy of building on legacy while establishing a forward-looking, effective trademark was a key challenge”, says Haviv. The main aim was to design “a timeless identifier” which resonates with the past through its colours and silhouette while also being compatible with contemporary content and “in the digital environment and beyond”, he adds.

Start the discussionStart the discussion
  • Post a comment

Latest articles

From the archives: Picture Post

As we head back into our archives, here’s a gem from March 1990. Jane Lewis looks at the creative ways design firms promoted their services through mail-outs.