MAD season 2: Pentagram’s North Carolina Museum of Art Logo

Pentagram’s at it again: they unveiled last week a new logo for the North Carolina Museum of Art and it’s eerily familiar.

Like the Museum of Arts and Design logo, this one was inspired, in seemingly equal parts, by Josef Albers’s Architype Albers typeface and by the geometry of the building: the 362 skylight hoods that cover Thomas Phifer’s new wing for NCMA (opening in April). MAD’s logo was based on the loopy lollipops of the original Durrell Stone building.

Maybe that curved-wedge shape is just coincidentally featured in both buildings, but it still makes the NCMA look like a cramped version of the MAD design. Plus, it’s long. What will the museum do if they can’t run the logo a good two inches wide? Will it hold up small?


Barbara Wiedemann and Dave Raney part of the museum’s in-house graphics team, asked Beirut if it’s a problem that the logo is, to be fair, a little hard to read:

There are people who are going to say, what the heck? I can’t read that thing. And I’d say, there’s a simpler way to write the words “Coca-Cola”…but because Coca-Cola made a commitment to that cursive logo a long time ago, and devoted bajillions of dollars to getting it out there in the world—we’ve all seen that written in Cyrillic or Hebrew, and you can still tell it says Coca-Cola—they own not just the words, but a particular visual style of presenting it. (PDF of the interview here)

Plus, Beirut says, a typeface this unique means “the museum would own anything it wrote with those letters.” (MAD got a typeface too, but they tend to stick to Futura.) Which, if the face is successful, would be great. But if the public doesn’t go for it, the museum will be stuck speaking a language no one wants to hear.

[via @pentagramdesign]

2 responses to “MAD season 2: Pentagram’s North Carolina Museum of Art Logo

  1. Trying to apply some general principles of branding to the new NCMA logo… “Is it unique?”- not really in my opinion- my first thought was that it looked like a bad 1980’s display font. “Is it memorable?”- I suppose so- if only because it is not visually appealing. “Does it capture the essence of the museum?”- well the author commented on incorporating the look of the new edition exterior…yes, I certainly get the point: the new addition exterior features metal components that are narrow in width and tall in vertical- hey just like the components of the logo. In the end, if I was part of a focus group and was asked the question “Based on your perception of the logo alone- would you want to visit the museum?” – no.

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