The Science Museum logo is a bold statement that reinvigorates the genre

The debate about the logo in identity took a new twist this week with the launch of Johnson Banks’ bold branding for the Science Museum (see News, page 3), flouting any notion that the logo is on its last legs.

Someone co-founder Simon Manchipp kicked off the discussion earlier this year, with the view that the logo is dead (Insight, DW 1 April), but the Science Museum logo counters this theory. The square device, with its Grid typeface, dominates communications, while creating a framework for imagery and text, rather than the other way round.

The Science Museum identity is flexible, as applications from banners to booklets show – and the logo puts the museum into perspective alongside the sponsors of its events.

The project also reinforces the prominence of cultural institutions as patrons of design. The identity is but a part – albeit key – of events being staged as the Science Museum’s centenary year draws to a close. The Wellcome Wing reopens this week, refurbished by Ab Rogers, among others, and the shows Antenna and Who Am I? make their debut, with input from A Plus B and Casson Mann and Graphic Thought Facility respectively.

The Science Museum is not alone in this. National institutions such as the Tate, London’s National Gallery and Scotland’s museums have long been design stalwarts and hold an impressive collection of creative awards between them.

And these are not just for the exhibition work. Judges of Design Week’s Benchmarks awards have honoured branding programmes on more than one occasion, with the Tate being named Client of the Year in 2008 for projects in London and Liverpool, by Rose and True North respectively. Long may this focus on design continue.

Back to the Science Museum branding though and the great logo debate. The marque may be writ large now, but Michael Johnson says it has a ’quiet’ mode and could even ’disappear’ once established. Maybe Manchipp has a point.

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