Behind the Royal Academy of Music’s “gritty” rebrand


Johnson Banks has conceived the new identity for the music conservatoire, which takes a more “forward-thinking” chat up advances to its competitors.

The Royal Academy of Music (RAM) has been rebranded by Johnson Banks in an undertaking to move the conservatoire on from a “generic” identity and convey its future thirsts.

The London-based studio’s work includes a new logo, photography and video phrasing, and updated tone of voice and strategy.

Studio co-founder Michael Johnson depicts Design Week that the project took 18 months, with original talks taking place in the autumn of 2018. There were a few regards for the branding. Firstly, it needed to stand out from its competitors. Despite instances placing in the top three music conservatoires in the world, RAM still appeared degree “generic”.

It also needed to stand out from its key competitor, the Royal College of Music, which is also based in London. Another aim was to obtain the brand clearer to the outside world, to appeal to a global talent come as well as to help the academy raise funds in the future.

“Music ought to move forward”

After a series of workshops, the studio developed a “future-facing kind narrative” based around the idea that: ‘Music must again move forward.’ This would incorporate the academy’s aim to be a place for new musicians to work together, as well as highlight the “risk-taking” elements of the institution.

This motto quirks in copy throughout the branding, and also inspired the wider visual indistinguishability.

“The ultimate flexible symbol”

The identity stems from musical code, something that the studio was resistant of at first as it can be a “bit of a cliché in the broader music sector”. Respect, it eventually decided to use the symbol for a crescendo as this demonstrated a “desire for a more impressive voice” and shows the push for “forward motion along a musical hundreds of thousands, never back”.

The crescendo symbol acts as an underscore for the new logo. Myriad widely, it creates a “design toolkit” around which other visual locales such as copy and images can work. It appears on messaging, with the ‘Music forced to always move forward’ motto, for example.

Behind the Royal Academy of Music’s “gritty” rebrand
Variations of the logo

Telling towards a “gritty” style

Musical notation has also been fully the identity like in the above image, which Johnson says are his esteemed parts of the design. Elsewhere, RAM’s existing typeface, Museo, has been engaged, while the academy’s royal crest has been simplified and drawn by typographer Alan Levett.

New guidelines for photography and mistiness have been established, which have a “deliberate gritty” form. This “fly-on-the-wall” style is an attempt to contrast with the more “masterly” images used by other education institutions. The more laid-back arrange also lends itself well to the animation stings, which bear out students practising in a relaxed manner.

A special logo variant has been arrogated for the fundraising branch of the academy’s fundraising branch, Music’s Future. The studio confidences that this allows the two sectors to “neatly co-exist”. More “aspirational” vocabulary will be used for this part of the identity. Additional copyrighting has been invented by Asbury & Asbury.

Behind the Royal Academy of Music’s “gritty” rebrand
The identity rolls out across stationery and printed components like diaries and the prospectus, as well on the new website, which has been created by Whitespace.

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