City of Melbourne Logo

The City of Melbourne has unveiled its new corporate identity this week. Designed by Landor, one of the largest marketing and design agencies in the world, the new identity is designed to be "synonymous with the modern, vibrant, cool city Melbourne is today and will continue to be in the future" according to our current Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle. The new logo definitely ticks the 'cool' and 'modern' boxes but it doesn't reflect the history of the city and says very little about the lifestyle of its residents.
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One of the comments on the Brand New review sums up the mood of those unimpressed by the design:

“It references the angles of a frankly embarrassing building near the central, 19th-century train station, an attempt to make a modern statement in a downtown which is characterized by a Gold Rush-era plethora of neoclassical buildings which are among the best of their kind in the world.”

While Federation Square does look like a big shapeless mess Landor’s fractured M is quite beautiful.  It has geometric simplicity, vivid colour and a great deal of depth.

Most of all it seems to offer a lot of scope to use elements and shapes from the logo in other marketing material.  Those prism-like shards and dark, cool colours lend themselves easily to motion graphics and other digital applications.

Although it might seem like a good idea to try to distill a whole range of ideas that people identify with Melbourne- the heritage, the cafe culture, the sports fanaticism and the art world- that can end in a pretty messy collision.  Which appears to be what happened with the last lego.  Putting the city in a blender then probably isn’t the way to go.

Whether the new identity will readily convert to print and traditional applications remains to be seen but that is often the price paid for logos with such a strong impact. The black and white version of the logo looks unfinished and would almost benefit from just being rendered as a solid black but the colour version works well on its own and the animated promo looks as sharp as the logo itself. Current media reports focus mainly on the cost of the project (almost a quarter of a million AUD) which will undoubtedly grow as signage, uniforms, and collateral are updated.

A discussion of the new Melbourne ‘M’ can be found here at Brand New. There is also an excellent interview on youtube with the founder of Landor Associates, Walter Landor, from 1977 in which he talks about the importance of design and his devotion to visual communication.



Richard Pendavingh

Photographer, designer and weekend historian. Editor of The Unravel. Writes about design, tech, history and anthropology.

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