I’m no snob for typography — a dilettante at best, really — but the Nobel Prize’s logo redesign is a God-awful way to modernize the 123-year-old symbol of human ingenuity.
Established in 1895 and first awarded in 1901 to honor those who “have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind,” the new font combines the unassuming blandness of sans serif with the utilitarian perfunctoriness of the much-beloved and universally deployed Helvetica font. Such an impersonal style lacks the grace demanded of one of civilization’s highest honors.
This December, to coincide with its 2018 ceremony, the Nobel Prize introduced its new design by the Sweden-based Stockholm Design Lab as a way to integrate the various stakeholders within the organization under one holistic brand identity. As the Stockholm Design Lab states on its project page, the new logo is meant “to create synergies.” Accordingly, the design firm has adapted its new font from text on the prized Nobel medal. They then based its uppercase lettering on classic geometric shapes and the lowercase letters on tradition — early typefaces like Akzidenz-Grotesk, Berthold Grotesk, and Futura.
While the poetic sales-pitch of the new logo certainly rings seductive, there’s very little to fawn over in the actual product. Controversially, the Swedish firm has decided to nix the Nobel Prize’s famous coin from its logo. What is perhaps the organization’s most recognizable symbol will no longer feature prominently in its public-facing materials. The coin, which has for many years united the organization’s various outfits under a single image, will disappear.
Not that the Nobel Prize’s old logo was doing the organization any favors. Weird letter spacing, clunky Times New Romanesque fonts, and a putrid mustard-colored medal combined to create a messy logo unbefitting the prize’s great importance. More maddeningly, the organization has used slightly different versions of the medal to differentiate between things like its concert series, museum, center, and media office. And these images of the medal seem to have gone through the blender a few times over the years; some like look poor renditions of Alfred Nobel masquerading as a yellow Colonel Sanders, of Kentucky-fried chicken fame.
But let not the sins of the past punish us with a blander future. The only thing worse than an ugly medal is an ugly, corporate rebranding scheme. Moreover, it signals a polarizing trend that forces brands to choose between going full image or full text. There are a variety of reasons why a company might decide to go image-only. For a company like Apple, which uses a white macintosh, deploying a symbol is a power move that denotes just how omnipresent the brand is across the globe. For museums, nonprofits, and cultural organizations, the use of a text-only logo brings more erudite connotations of posterity and learnedness.
The text-only option is a popular choice for cultural organizations like the Nobel Prize. Who can forget the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s fumbling rollout of their multimillion-dollar rebranding that replaced its beloved, architectural “M,” with the Wolff Olin design firm’s stiflingly cramped calligraphy that shouts THE MET at visitors?
Surely the Nobel Prize organization spent a similarly exorbitant amount of money on their redesign. And for what? Three words that preserve the brand, and not the identity, of a treasured accolade.
Works by the Abeyta family of artists encourage thinking beyond activism and legislation as a means for political progress.
Despite faithfully recreating the story of the beloved comic book series, the TV show lacks the verve of the original.
Choose from over 140 courses for adults and youth ages 13 to 17, including options for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students. Enroll by August 23 for an early bird discount.
A video showing insects crawling inside a framed photograph by artists Bernd and Hilla Becher caused uproar, and disgust, online.
Actor Al Pacino is co-producing the upcoming movie about the tortured Italian artist.
The Brooklyn organization is now accepting new project inquiries for its fee-based fabrication services in printmaking, ceramics, and large-scale public art.
Women at War exposes the struggles that women of Eastern Europe have been undergoing for the last 60 years, in addition to the annihilation of Ukrainian heritage.
Major publishing houses, and some authors, accuse the open access platform of “piracy” and copyright infringement.
The Newark Museum of Art Presents Jazz Greats: Classic Photographs from the Bank of America Collection
Photographers Antony Armstrong Jones, Milt Hinton, Chuck Stewart, Barbara Morgan, and more capture a breadth of legendary and local musicians and performance artists. On view through August 21.
The Roman-era burial ground is located in Anazarbus (modern Anavarza) in the country’s southern Adana province.
Those with a Didion-shaped hole in their hearts can also bid for portraits of the author, her books, and other personal items.
The union seeks a minimum wage of $20 by the end of 2024; the museum offered only $16.