Slow start for South Bank’s new branding

The South Bank Centre quietly unveiled its Wolff Olins-designed branding this week, almost a year after the anticipated launch date.

A bold graphic style of coloured, overlapping stripes and block shapes has been adopted for the visual identity, as previewed by designweek.co.uk last Friday.

The identity is intended to act as an overarching style for the centre’s cultural venues, including the Royal Festival Hall and Hayward Gallery, although it is not clear how these potentially disparate elements will be drawn together across all branding applications.

It is the first time that the centre has rebranded since its logo, by CDT Design, was introduced more than a decade ago. A spokeswoman for the SBC confirms that the website, www.southbankcentre.co.uk, represents the ‘unified vision’ which will run across all the centre’s organisations. Wolff Olins was appointed to the project in March 2005, after a pitch thought to have included Atelier Works, Pentagram, Cartlidge Levene, North and The Partners. The work was expected to launch a year later, but is now subject to a slow roll-out beginning with the website last week. The site itself was developed by digital media consultancy Firechaser.

The roll-out is set to culminate in June when the Royal Festival Hall reopens after a £91m ‘transformation’.

There has been some recent restructuring at the SBC’s in-house creative team. Former creative director John Pasche left in April 2005, after which his post was scrapped. Tim Hodgson was promoted from senior designer to art director and charged with the creative implementation of Wolff Olins’ branding work, but left before the branding was completed. It is thought there were also a number of other redundancies.

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