BFI signage

In the middle of the noughties we were asked to help the then British Film Institute (now BFI) clarify its brand architecture and resolve a muddle of divisions and sub-brands.

The outcome of this was a new identity and visual approach based on two main features – a new identity derived from a cinematic lens-flare, and a strong typographic style that could be carried over into all communications from the organisation.

One of the main ‘drivers' for the identity change was the refurbishment of the BFI's legacy site on London's Southbank, effectively replacing a film museum that had been closed for a decade, and revamping the National Film Theatre.

The decision had been taken to strongly brand all activities as the BFI, so one of our first tasks was translating the new symbol onto a vast 30 metre glass wall, one of the largest logos we’ve ever done.

Either side of the glass wall are large floor-t0-ceiling lightboxes - these are used to carry graphics and information on films showing, in a throwback to old back-lit cinema signs.

Within the refurbished space, we used simple vertical examples of their new typeface to clearly delineate zones and functions.

The largest wayfinding challenge was ‘driving' visitors from one end of the building to the other - the legacy site worked on different levels and presented quite a severe signage hierarchy challenge.

Rather than insert constructed signage into an already busy space, we identified key walls within the spaces to act as ‘signs' and then used the simplest, shortest versions of what a visitor would need to know at any one time.

We also produced customised symbol sets to match with the corporate typeface.

In exterior spaces, this is how the new identity applied within the environs of the Southbank Centre.

This is one of the external enamel signs built to drive passers-by on the Southbank to the main entrance.

There’s more on the identity aspects of this project here.