Just a few weeks into this project, it became clear that two major obstacles stood in the way of any significant progress. Firstly, their semi-feudal structure: this had grown almost organically, but left few people with a clear idea of what they did, and what they stood for. And secondly, their visual and verbal brand: they desperately needed to speak and seem like an organisation of the 21st century, not the fifties.

Before we could get anywhere near the design stage of the project, some serious strategic hurdles needed to be overcome. The fact that the BFI encompassed the Waterloo IMAX, the London Film Festival, the National Film Theatre, the National Film and Television Archive and Sight and Sound magazine was all great, on paper, but each entity rarely acknowledged the ‘masterbrand’. And as they revamped their flagship Southbank site, a clearer identity had become of paramount importance.

After months of discussions, a staff conference and several board meetings, it was decision time. It was clear to us that the Institute had to shorten its name to the BFI and become the clear and ever-present link between all activities. Where possible, historical brands were shelved or demoted, and any surviving ones (such as the Film Festivals) had to make their BFI lineage apparent at all times.

We could then progress to the visual side of the project. In our audit stage we'd realised that ‘film' logos tended to dwell on traditional clichΓ©s such as film sprockets and directors' chairs. As film was moving progressively to digital, we wanted something more unusual to link the organisation together, and started to work with a lens flare.

We could incorporate the lens flare into images and communications, sometimes subtly in the case of this re-released version of noir classic The Asphalt Jungle.

British Film Institute BFI logo branding poster lens flare British Film Institute BFI logo branding poster lens flare  Pali Palavathanan

In this example of a Brando season poster, we could use the visual idea in a much bolder and emphatic way.

With the use of the strong new identity and a consistent typographic approach, it became immediately possible to bring the organisation's activities together quickly.

Here are a few examples of new merchandise featuring the identity,

The vast backlit lightboxes outside the main entrance are used to advertise events and season information.

The new typographic style is carried through the interior of the refurbished Southbank site.

The emphasis for the signage is on clear information and supergraphics - above the interior approach, and below enamel stand-alone signs

There’s more on the signage aspect of this project here.