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X marks the spot for new university identity

Briefed to create an identity for the new University of the Arts Helsinki after three of Finland's most prestigious art academies joined forces, Finnish creative agency Bond designed a distinctive set of logotypes and introduced an anchor symbol to connect the new university mother brand with its three academy brands.

"The inspiration behind the 'X' was that it represents a kind of non-symbol," say Bond's Jesper Bange and James Zamra. "It's generic enough to be infused with a great deal of different associations. We wanted to avoid playing on art-related clichés. The identity has caused a lot of debate - everybody has an opinion."

When three Finnish art academies - the Academy of Fine Arts, the Sibelius Academy and the Theatre Academy - merged into one, Bond was brought on board to brand the new University of the Arts Helsinki.

The Helsinki-based studio worked with teachers and students from the academies to develop some initial ideas. "Working in this way, with a large amount of people all giving their input was very inspiring."

The challenge was to create a unified identity. "At the same time we had to leave enough room for the academies and their organisations to build their own profiles," explain Bond's Jesper Bange and James Zambra.

"The simple and bold 'X' symbol has plenty of meanings, just like art does," reasons Bange. "It can be seen, for example, as a starting point, a destination, a signature, a warning, a question and a solution."

The final identity is certainly distinctive. "It portrays the university as 'Finland's most interesting university', which was the original brief," says Zambra. "The goal was to not leave viewers cold."

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 221.

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