Dynamic Brand Identity: Designing Logos That Evolve

Paula Scher, partner in the New York office of Pentagram, walks us through her process of creating a liquid identity—a recognizable, dynamic branding system that can be adapted across mediums.

In this 70-minute class, you’ll think about researching an organization’s goals, developing a series of design solutions, simplifying them to their essence, and stretching them to their limits as they apply to animation, products, signage, architecture, and more.

Go behind-the-scenes to see how the liquid identities of some of Paula’s most respected projects came to life (including Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Type Directors Club, and Microsoft Windows), explore her latest re-branding for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and join her at the Public Theater in Manhattan—her most iconic, long-standing project to date.

What You’ll Learn

  • Avoiding rigid branding. Paula Scher walks us through her past work experiences that have allowed her to become the accomplished design leaders she is today. You’ll also find her list of client projects she’ll be showing throughout this class.
  • Introduction. Paula’s lesson will take you through the process of developing a fluid and complete company logo design. First, you’ll identify a nonprofit organization whose mission interests you. Then, you’ll come up with a “design kit” that includes a logo, typographic system, color palette, icons, and methodology of approach to demonstrate different parts of the organization in various media, from digital to physical spaces.
  • Research. Always start by getting to know your client. Paula will walk you through research best practices and the common reasons why organizations opt to rebrand.
  • Finding solutions. You’ll learn how to approach the initial design presentation for a client, which means synthesizing the information you get from your research into components your client can understand. Remember, design only matters if the company actually executes, so you’ll learn to present clients with a selection of branding designs, ranging from conservative to more radical.
  • Simplifying. It’s time to develop your “kit of parts.” You’ll learn that you have to keep this kit simple, because its job is to do a complex thing — represent an entire organization. Paula will explain why simplicity is key to creating a logo design for branding.
  • Stretching and testing. In expanding your branding design system, you’ll learn to look at its parts like they’re in an IQ test by asking yourself, “Which of these things doesn’t belong in this set?” Paula will teach you how to balance your ideas for a client’s branding with direct client collaboration.
  • Public theater. Paula will explain the fraught history of the New York Public Theater’s design and how she found a solution to make its branding cohesive. You’ll see how to create logos in a way that captures an organization’s ethos while also adapting to time and other variables.
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center. You’ll get some additional logo design tips through the lens of Paula’s long-term relationships with Jazz at Lincoln Center. Witness how Paula took the “meaning of jazz,” as conveyed by the Center’s director, and turned it into a font.
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art. How do you rebrand something that’s widely recognized…for something other than its main function? That was the challenge Paula faced when redesigning the logo for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with its iconic stairs made famous after their appearance in the movie, ‘Rocky’. Here, Paula will take you through the process of making a logo that matches a mission statement.
  • Type Directors Club. When does a typeface become unrecognizable? Paula will answer this question in exploring her design for the Type Directors Club, which is no small deal. The Type Directors Club stands as the governing body for typography, as they represent and reward the best of today’s type design and type use. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to develop rules to define the limits of your own typeface.
  • Windows. Paula will give you a logo design tutorial for a company that owns multiple, unique products. Through her work with Windows, you’ll learn how to design logos that look like they are members of the same family, but are not identical. After all, that’s the function of a liquid brand design.


Paula Scher

Partner at Pentagram

Paula Scher is one of the world’s most acclaimed graphic designers. She has been a principal in the New York office of the distinguished international design consultancy Pentagram since 1991. She began her design career as a record cover art director at Atlantic Records and CBS Records in the 1970s and 1980s.  She has designed identity and branding systems for a wide range of clients including the Public Theater, Citibank, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Opera, the High Line, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Scher has served on the Design Commission of the City of New York since 2006. She is an established artist exhibiting worldwide, and her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and other institutions. She is the author of “Make It Bigger” (Princeton Architectural Press,2002) and “MAPS” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011). Paula has taught at the School of Visual Arts and has held teaching positions at Cooper Union, Yale University, and Tyler School of Art. She is a recipient of the National Design Award, the AIGA Medal, the Type Directors Club Medal, and is a member of the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.


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