The Metropolitan Museum of Art has rebranded itself. It has pretty much been panned across the board and I thought I’d weigh in.
First of all, a logo isn’t a brand. It’s part of a branding strategy, and I’ve written before about the fact that an ugly logo doesn’t necessarily make a branding program bad.
But, a bad logo doesn’t help and this one just doesn’t work. It’s loosely based on a font from the 60’s and 70’s called Trooper Roman, although they’ve lightened it up a bit. Just in case you didn’t notice, the center bar of the “E” is angled slightly to match the angle of the walls of the Temple of Dendur in the museum.
“Many people who encounter the Met can be overwhelmed by it; it can be quite hard to navigate.” says the Strategy Director at the firm that created the design. And this logo helps how? Apparently this is a two-year project, and having spent many hours in the Met looking for a painting, a sculpture or whatever, I think they need a coherent signage program, not a new logo.
“The design featuring conjoined letters grew out of the theme of connection, and the font is meant to be both classical and modern.” Guess what? the use of a font designed in the sixties (although it was a fave of mine back then) doesn’t look classical, and I hate to say it, but at this point it doesn’t look modern either. Some one else commented the the whole top of the logo is the word “THE”.
The old logo, from the early 1970s is more timeless and elegant than what the new one. And it looked better on the buttons.
So just for fun, I downloaded a free version of Trooper Roman and set the letters up more or less like they are in the new logo. I know it’s thicker and not as finished and blah, blah, blah but it only took me 45 minutes. And any designer will tell you that having the letters overlap is one of the first visual things you try with letterforms. And often discard.
The top image is the actual logo, middle one is the quickie, bottom is the actual font.
My point is if you’re going to do a logo for a client like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, don’t make it look like it was done in under an hour.
But then there’s the other Met… The Metropolitan Opera which rebranded itself a few years ago. It’s clever, it’s sophisticated, it’s timeless in the truest sense of the word, and it works across all of their materials.
So it can be done, and done well. But a brand has to go deep, whether it’s for the local library or a major institution like either of the “Mets”. The logo is a huge part of that, and in this case it’s a part that doesn’t fit.
But maybe it is impossible, don’t get me started about the Lord & Taylor rebrand. Get me a box of Crayolas®.