New LSO identity translates Sir Simon Rattle’s conducting into graphic form

Using motion capture, The Partners have interpreted the conductor’s movements in a series of animations

These are exciting times for the London Symphony Orchestra. After losing a £5m Government contribution toward the development of its proposed new concert hall late last year, the City of London has now stepped forward with an offer to plug the gap and the project is back on track.

Added to that, LSO’s new Music Director, Sir Simon Rattle, has announced exciting plans for his first season in charge this autumn, with a concert in Tate’s Turbine Hall a highlight.

To coincide with the launch of the autumn season, The Partners have created a new visual identity for the LSO that renders Rattle’s distinctive conducting style into 3D motion graphics.

The project is a result of an extensive audit carried out by The Partners into the brand communications of orchestras across Europe. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it found that most were very traditional in their approach, with little to distinguish one from another in branding terms.

The Partners/Tobias Gremmler
The Partners/Tobias Gremmler

The LSO itself, The Partners argued “was being presented in an extremely traditional manner, failing to differentiate itself enough from other orchestras across London and Britain”.

The new identity seeks to highlight the orchestra’s history of innovation and its “visceral, vivid and always moving” performances, say The Partners. It takes as its starting points the familiar ‘conductor’s baton’ logo created for the orchestra by The Partners in 2004 and Rattle himself.

Working with the University of Portsmouth and Vicon Motion Systems, The Partners used live motion-capture to record Rattle conducting movements on Elgar’s Variations on an Original Theme, ‘Enigma’. A circle of 12 cameras captured Rattle as he conducted using a specially-modified baton.

The data collected was then sent to Hong Kong-based digital artist Tobias Gremmler who worked with the Partners team to transform the motion data into a series of four animated films reflecting the varied emotional qualities of the music.

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The Partners/Tobias Gremmler

The films form the basis for a visual language to be used across communications for the LSO, starting with the 2017/18 season and extending to LSO Discovery (the Orchestra’s education and community programme), LSO Live (its record label) and LSO St Luke’s (a unique multipurpose venue) as well as multiple partner and patron schemes.

Along with a redrawn version of the LSO logo, stills from the films are used as the dominant images on posters which also feature upper case type that references the movement of the baton.

The type is based on two approaches; a fluid movement and a more angular movement identified in Rattle’s actions. These are applied to individual letters in the various headlines used on the posters and on other treatments such as spreads in the LSO Season Guide.

LSO player photography
LSO player photography by Ranald Mackechnie

The LSO is keen to position itself as an innovator – an accessible, passionate and progressive force in classical music. The new scheme certainly sets it apart from its rivals, with its promise of energy and innovation and that super-strong, impactful type.

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The Partners/Tobias Gremmler

It’s also nicely integrated with the existing mark – something that such schemes often struggle with. Through the typography and into the graphics and motion graphics, the central concept of the brand flows convincingly. There’s a logic to the approach that avoids it seeming to be trying too hard to be contemporary.

And – as the Partners’ leads on the project Stuart Radford and Marc Spicer point out – an interesting reflection on changes in the branding world. Almost all schemes now come with a moving image component. If The Partners had come up with that mark today, they say, these motion elements are precisely the kind of thing they would have wanted to do with it.

The Partners/Tobias Gremmler
The Partners/Tobias Gremmler


Branding Agency: The Partners
Creative Director: Stuart Radford
Senior Designer: Marc Spicer
Account Director: Suzanne Neal
Digital Artist: Tobias Gremmler
Motion capture: University of Portsmouth and Vicon Motion Systems
Musician photography: Ranald Mackechnie
LSO: Edward Appleyard (Project Lead), Karen Cardy

On-stage visual