Johnson Banks creates identity for Science Museum

The Science Museum in London is launching a new identity designed by Johnson Banks as its centenary year draws to a close.

Johnson Banks was appointed in December 2009 following a five-way pitch after ’a long and vigorous process’, says Science Museum head of creative direction Tim Molloy. The identity, which launches tomorrow, is a square marque, bearing the words ’Science Museum’.

A ligature between the ’i’ and ’e’ of ’science’ allows it to be configured as a fourcharacter block. It will appear prominently across promotions including banners, signs and publications, and can be animated.

Johnson Banks has created a typeface called Grid, which creative director Michael Johnson says ’is the identity’ and which can work as an identifier without the logo. As for colour, ’We tend to think of blue,’ says Johnson, ’but we are working on a vast colour palette.’

The concept is based on the notion of decrypting the generic terms ’science’ and ’museum’, Johnson adds. He says the design is made ’clearer and calmer’ than the museum’s previous identity by ’playing up the logo’.

Key to the brief was the question ’What is this thing we call science?’, says Molloy. The identity also had to draw together the museum’s disparate interests, appealing to existing audiences and attracting new ones. Molloy says the museum’s identity had been used in many different ways and was no longer recognisable.

’The museum spoke with many voices. Sometimes it was an angry crowd, but never a coherent whole,’ he says. He adds that while family visitors are key to the museum, ’it has a desire to grow its adult audience’, and facilities such as the Dana Centre for adult learning, Launchpad and the Lates events are geared towards it.

Molloy says the museum’s identity has not changed radically for 20 years. ’Everything between has been a response to something,’ he says, citing a ’tweak’ by Peter Leonard in the late 1980s to put an algebraic symbol on carrier bags as admission charges were introduced.

Design credits

  • The new identity launch coincides with the reopening of the Wellcome Wing this week after a refurbishment by Ab Rogers
  • The exhibitions Antenna, designed in-house with input from A Plus B, and Who Am I?,with design by groups including Casson Mann and Graphic Thought Facility, also open this week. ’Two years’ work is launching in two weeks,’ says Science Museum head of creative direction Tim Molloy
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  • Katie Monk November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    The 80’s are back and Neville Brody would be proud….but to your average Joe on the street(ie. not a design curious industry person) it is pretty illegible!

  • Katie Monk November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


  • Julia Stafford November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Had something interesting appeared in the white space, it might have justified what is going on here but it doesn’t… a missed opportunity perhaps? Without the support of colour and photography to prop it up, its a bit of a damp squib. To be fair, this looks like a ‘multi-headed client monster and watered-down end product’ scenario.

  • Simon Case November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Reads like LRK using any old pretext to promote her mates. Again. Average

  • Steven Ramsay November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Makes you think, a refreshing change to the standard museum stuff we see pumped out!

    Besides its science, its about observation.

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