Check out Pentagram’s bold new identity for the Mellon Foundation

Eddie Opara, partner at renowned design firm Pentagram, has long specialized in high-tech graphics. But for the new appearance of the 53-year-old Mellon Foundation, he and his design team tried something completely different: they modeled the logo out of clay.

[Image: courtesy Pentagram]

The resulting symbol, a sculptural “M” that can take on a variety of sizes, colors, and patterns to fit everything from formal grant documents to advertisements, reflects the foundation’s role as the largest patron of the arts and humanities in the United States contrary. It’s paired with a sophisticated serif wordmark and audio signature inspired by Black composer Florence Price (and designed by Opara’s colleague Yuri Suzuki). Overall, this forms one of the most memorable identities of an organization, let alone a philanthropy, in recent memory.

Why does a philanthropic foundation need elegant branding? Finally, the Mellon Foundation exists to give away the vast fortune of 19th-century industrialist Andrew W. Mellon, a foundation that exceeds $9 billion. The Foundation does not face the market pressures that drive many public companies to invest in branding.

[Image: courtesy Pentagram]

But there are compelling reasons to apply a shiny new coat of paint. By doing Summer 2020As racial justice protests spread across the United States, the Mellon Foundation updated its mission to prioritize social justice in all of its grants. It has allocated $250 million to rethink exclusionary monuments and is funding a variety of initiatives The aim is to increase diversity in higher education. The old logo, a generic red and black wordmark, bore no relation to the foundation’s new direction.

The new identity references the communities that are expected to benefit from the Foundation’s grants. The Mellon Foundation font (abbreviated from the former name Andrew W. Mellon Foundation) comes from the Chilean design studio Joane W Type Foundry. The typeface for other branded media (e.g., in signage and on the foundation’s website) is Halyard, a sharp sans serif designed by the best-known black typeface designer in the United States. Joshua Darden. And the logo’s shapeshifting “M” acts as a vessel to highlight the organization’s grantees; It can be curved to resemble the lithe forms of a dancer, textured to evoke a landscape design, or filled in with a photographer’s image. The art literally defines the brand.

[Image: courtesy Pentagram]

More generally, Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander believes that at a time of great upheaval in American society, philanthropic organizations need to do more to communicate their ideals. “The foundation’s path has been to quietly fund the grantees and lead by example. But we [as an organization]… also have something to say,” she says. “We want to be identifiable with the war against truth and all the societal struggles we find ourselves in. We carry meaning, we carry values, and we want them to be noticed.”

[Photo: courtesy Pentagram]

In that sense, Pentagram’s branding puts a mark on the ground. “Arts and humanities help foster empathy in a divided country,” says Opara. “We need the humanities and humanities to be integrated into the idea of ​​the future, otherwise we will lose ourselves.” Check out Pentagram’s bold new identity for the Mellon Foundation


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