A ‘virtual studio’ made up of architecture, design and creative agencies from Eindhoven has devised an open-source visual identity for the city.
The group – which includes design studio Raw Color, creative agency Scherpontwerp, Edhv and Eric de Haas – has designed a bespoke typeface and flexible logo that will be applied to signage, stationery, public spaces and communications. A set of brand guidelines will also be published later this month and the full re-brand is expected to take around two years.
Eindhoven’s new marque is a red and white chevron device. Edhv said it was selected after a thorough sketching process as the virtual studio was looking “for something that would express the energy of the city and would have the potential to become an iconic logo.”
“It’s a visualisation of Eindhoven’s energy,” says Peter Kentie, managing director at Eindhoven365, which commissioned the project. Electronics brand Philips was founded there, he explains, and it’s now home to a growing collection of tech start-ups, research institutes and creative agencies.
“The Eindhoven typeface has a course look, almost as if it’s unfinished,” he adds. “It’s based on duct tape lettering, to represent that ‘under construction’ feel and is designed to be highly recognisable, fitting the ‘vibe’ of the logo.”
Eindhoven’s tone of voice has also been updated: its official welcome sign now reads ‘glad you are here’ instead of simply ‘welcome to Eindhoven’, “because that’s the kind of mentality we want to communicate,” says Kentie.
Eindhoven isn’t the first city to adopt a flexible identity system – Wolf Ollins launched one for New York City in 2007, and Melbourne introduced a flexible ‘M’ device in 2009 – but it’s one of very few that has replaced its official and marketing communications with a single visual system.
“Almost all cities have two brands, some even more, although there are exceptions like Antwerp,” says Kentie. “It’s confusing for companies coming to the city that may have been attracted by one set of communications yet when they’re in town, they see another. We thought it would be more future oriented to create a single, unified brand.”
The only downside to the idea, says Kentie, is the gargantuan task of re-branding the city’s entire official presence. This will be done in phases but the new system is already being used at major events such as Dutch Design Week, which took place last month, and the Global Light Festival, which starts on Friday. It also appeared on t-shirts at this year’s Eindhoven marathon:
Eindhoven365 could have picked just one agency to re-brand the city, but Kentie says the aim was to create a design made by the people that have helped shape its creative scene.
“We picked the best talent from a diverse group and asked them to work together. It was like assembling a national football team; using the best players from different clubs that usually compete, and asking them to work together. The task outgrew potential conflicts of interest and everyone really worked together. The whole mentality was very different from asking agencies to pitch individually,” he adds.
With an underlying grid structure and basic shapes, the new identity can be easily adapted. It’s open source, and local businesses and community groups are being encouraged to use and customise the marque.
“Instead of creating slogans for the city that people have to use, we’re giving them more of a campaign toolkit and seeing what happens. It’s a really dynamic way to let people experiment with the different elements: the design can be made into a repeat pattern, carved out of wood or tile or used in print or animations. As long as people aren’t gaining an unfair commercial advantage from it, we’re happy,” says Kentie.
To find out more or to keep up with Eindhoven’s progress see merkeindhoven.nl