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Pentagram Gives Rock Band’s Album A Corporate-Like Identity As ‘A Bit Of A Joke’
By Yoon Sann Wong, 11 Sep 2017
When you think of “rock band,” the word or image associated with “corporate” isn’t what automatically comes to mind. Nevertheless, this is the visual identity bestowed upon one of the world’s largest indie bands, American rock group The National, by way of Luke Hayman, a partner at renowned New York-based design agency Pentagram.
Hayman designed the album cover and promotional material for the band’s latest record release called Sleep Well Beast. The graphics span the album sleeve, as well as related merchandise including apparels and posters, plus paraphernalia like staplers and even tape dispensers.
What the band had formerly done personally is now under the jurisdiction of the design agency. “Two of the band members are former designers, and the bassist Scott Devendorf worked at Pentagram. They’ve embraced this by commissioning an identity from ‘the largest independent design firm in the world’, Pentagram, who happen also to be friends,” explained Hayman to Dezeen. Pentagram elaborated on its website:
“The National were amused by the appearance of hiring a large branding agency to do their campaign, finding a bit of punk irony in the idea of an indie band having a full-on corporate identity, even going so far as to produce a corporate standards manual.”
The identity, which sports a blue and white color palette selected for its “retro, slightly monotonous” quality, channels corporate branding from the 1970s. This ties in with the band’s theme of mid-life desolation that resonates throughout its tunes.
“It’s a bit of a joke,” admitted Hayman, who structured the five-sided house-like graphic—used on the album cover and as the promotional logo—after the barn in Hudson, New York, where the album was recorded.
“The cover is a photograph of the rural New York State recording studio built on the property of one of the band members and shot by [photographer] Graham MacIndoe. It became part of the mythology of the identity: it’s the headquarters for the ‘corporation’ or organization that produces the music-propaganda,” elaborated Hayman. “The barn is broken down into two squares and two triangles that disassemble into a ‘code’ and—more practically—become a useful graphic across many of the applications.”
As a “continuation of the corporate identity idea,” Hayman added a corporate ‘Ntl’ logo on the band’s merchandise. “It’s also useful to have an icon that stands up in small applications, for example, social media applications, mobile devices and so on—and lastly, we think it looks cool.”
Preview The National’s visual identity for its album Sleep Well Beast below and see the entire collection over on Pentagram.
[via Dezeen, images via Pentagram]
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