Digital design agency Söderhavet has launched a new visual identity for Sweden.
The agency’s brief was to re-design the country’s official website and create a unified system to replace the separate identities of national agencies such as Visit Sweden and Business Sweden.
The new logo combines the Swedish flag and official colours with the local word for Sweden and its name in whatever country it’s addressing. The marque uses a custom typeface, Sweden Sans, which Söderhavet developed with designer Stefan Hattenbach.
“The logo is designed to be just as relevant in ten or 15 years as it is today,” says creative director Mattias Svensson. “We had a lot of discussions about it and worked on several variations with crowns and other symbols but in the end, we agreed that the flag was the best option. Of course, as an agency you always want to create your own iconic marque, but the flag is the natural choice as it’s a national symbol and one that’s been in use for centuries,” he adds.
The typeface is inspired by old Scandinavian signage, and design director Jesper Robinell says it provides a distinctive and less expensive alternative to licensing a classic sans. It’s already been used in a brochure promoting a Swedish furniture company and one encouraging people to study in Sweden:
As well as the fixed marque, Söderhavet has developed a flexible ‘identity toolkit’ of accent colours, secondary typefaces and patterns such as geometric shapes based on the compass bearing between Sweden and the country it’s communicating with:
The key features of the marque are supposed to be timeless, says Svensson, but accents will be regularly updated to ensure Sweden’s branding remains up to date. “Applications like the compass bearing could be updated in a couple of years or changed altogether. Blue and yellow will remain the key brand colours but we could introduce different shades – the important thing is that it reflects contemporary Sweden,” says Svensson.
To ensure consistency, Söderhavet has also set up an online identity guide which can be easily updated. “There are a few distinct rules around the use of the flag but we’ve tried to avoid introducing too many fixed dos and don’ts because everything moves so fast,” adds Svensson.
“If you say text may only be used to the right of a logo for example, you may not be able to use it when a new website or social channel pops up. As a digital agency, we understand this need for flexibility but I think it’s something traditional agencies sometimes have difficulty seeing,” he adds.
Söderhavet’s work for Sweden is striking and versatile. The new sweden.se and work.sweden.se sites look great and are easy to navigate, and the custom typeface works well both online and off. The new identity won’t be used in domestic communications, but it should help the country present a more coherent image abroad.