Responses by Marina Willer, partner, Pentagram.
Background: Sight & Sound, a film magazine by the British Film Institute (BFI), had been overlooked for a long time. The brand did not match the quality of its content and its place as the editorial film authority in the United Kingdom. We aimed to create a holistic brand system that kept the print magazine at the brand’s center with a digital presence that supported it, helping the magazine become more collectible and giving it the editorial voice it deserves.
Design thinking: Following our initial perspective, we researched the archives of the BFI and its history, as we always look into a brand’s DNA before we build from that essence. We built upon one of its previous logos in a tightly set Eurostile Bold Extended Two used in the 1970s, an era which we feel when film had the indisputable place as an art form in its full glory—not to be nostalgic, but we hoped to celebrate the essence of film as well as embracing its future through forms like streaming.
The language around that logo comes from the clapper boards of film shoots with its typeface family Plaak, which provides many weights and different looks. These allow for flexibility in Sight & Sound to reflect the diverse nature of its content. To further celebrate the language of clapperboards, we also made the grid visible in instances. The supporting typeface family we used for longer text is Big Caslon, which reinforces the editorial authority that the previous brand had overlooked.
Challenges: Striking a balance between projecting an image that looks towards the future as well as being approachable and not too niche. It’s important that Sight & Sound invites every kind of reader while being an authority on film. All that needed to happen within small budgets, which meant, for example, not being able to commission photography and using mostly the same images available to all press, not using a higher quality paper, and not having more space and pages to create beautiful compositions. Regardless, we made the magazine feel unique.
Favorite details: I’m most proud of how my team took on the task. We are not your typical magazine designers. I’m very grateful for my team’s passion and obsession with detail that they put into this.