Alexandra Palace gets a new identity to “transcend music”

The 140-year-old North London venue has been given a new look to stop it being seen as a giant, “corporate” gig space and show that it is embracing the local community with a range of cultural events.

Design studio Lovers has rebranded Alexandra Palace, to help build up people’s “loyalty” to the music venue and showcase its event series, from ice skating to summer festivals.

Alexandra Palace — otherwise known as “Ally Pally” — first opened in 1873 as a music hall, installing one of the largest organs in Europe two years after launch. Throughout its existence, it has witnessed two fires, a temporary transition into a Belgian refugee camp during the First World War, and hosted the world’s first ever public television broadcast in the 1930s, when BBC Studios was stationed there.

Now, it hosts large-scale music events, as well as theatre shows, conferences and festivals, and has a capacity of 10,400 people.

The rebrand sees the venue’s existing calligraphic, script wordmark logo replaced with a bold, all-capitals, sans-serif logo set out in an arch-shape, which mirrors the architecture of the building itself. “Alexandra” is set in an arc, with “Palace” underneath it, forming a semi-circle.

Alex Ostrowski, creative director at Lovers, says the studio wanted to avoid a “Swiss design-influenced corporate identity”, and instead was inspired by 19th century signage, such as that you may see outside a “barber shop”.

“We wanted to give the Palace a logo that felt classic, credible and important, but also captured a sense of fun,” he says. “The arch is a nod to the recurring arch motifs in the building’s architecture, but also to this idea of ‘one roof’ under which a lot of diverse things take place.”

A gold and white colour palette has been used for the core branding and has been applied to other typographic elements such as signage in the building.

An extended palette of pink, yellow, two blues, green and red has been used for other marketing materials, such as event-specific ones, as well as black and white.

A second serif typeface, called Palace Display, has been created bespoke and is more ornate than the core type. It features irregular letter widths, and a hand-drawn-inspired quality, such as curved letter ends and inflections. This has been used across headline copy for campaign materials, as well as for a monogram “AP” version of the logo, which sits within a roundel.

“We wanted it to be elegant but fun and un-strict,” says Ostrowski. “There’s a touch of ‘swinging sixties’ to it but also a Victorian feel.”

This type and the multi-coloured palette are used to advertise such events as the venue’s summer festival, the Great Fête, and its annual fireworks display in November. Other things it hosts include an ice rink, a skate park and a Go Ape obstacle course on its grounds.

To promote these events, Ostrowski says the studio were inspired by materials from the Palace’s 146-year-old archive, including postcards and posters, leading to the studio taking an “illustrative” approach for campaign materials.

“We dug out this old postcard which had an amazing illustration of a fireworks display taking place over the boating lake at the turn of the 20th century,” he says. “It was just raining colour down onto the crowd. At that point, we knew we wanted the brand to embrace a multi-coloured approach.”

Event communications feature a broad colour palette, irregular and oversized type set in Palace Display, photography and illustrations of people and items indicating what people can do at events.

“Music is a huge part of life at Ally Pally but there so much variety there to celebrate,” Ostrowski says. “It needs to put effort in to promote events that transcend music to food, art, theatre and more. Our campaign for the Great Fête avoids putting music first by showing people enjoying the multiple things on offer.”

Rida Hamidou, creative producer at Lovers, says that by showcasing the events on offer, the new campaigns hope to encourage “brand loyalty” to Alexandra Palace, and shake off “host venue syndrome”, whereby people only come there to see a particular music act play.

“Ally Pally is pivoting, it wants to appeal to the local community a bit more,” he says. “It doesn’t want to be this monolithic, corporate music venue where big, old bands play. We tried to inject that feeling into the new brand.”

Alexandra Palace’s new branding is currently rolling out across all touchpoints including interiors and on signage in and around the venue, the website and social media, merchandise and print marketing materials.

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