Shakespeare’s Globe And The Dangers Of Simple Design

Published in Branding on Jan 19, 2018 by Tim Marner™

 Pentagram partner Alan Fletcher's old logo

If government and religion are the 2 pillars of society, then “less is more” and “concept is key” would constitute the design world equivalents. But is there a point when this goes too far?

Recently we’ve seen the rebrand of Shakespear’s Globe by London based design agency The Partners. This topic has created a lot of conversation and quite the debate in Tim Marner HQ about where the line is. The first thing we want to say before we get into this is if you haven’t seen the work by the Partner’s you should go have a look because some of their work is beyond brilliant.

The logo which was created using a block of wood and is inspired by the circular shape of the original theatre built in the 16th century. It also references the prologue of Shakespeare’s play Henry V, where the theatre is described as a “wooden O”.

“[The wood] is like a holy relic,” says Nick Eagleton, creative director at The Partners, on Shakespeare Globe’s Medium blog post. “It appears to be the only remaining circular piece of oak from the timber used to rebuild the Globe.”

“[The symbol] stands for energy and experiment and for being alive,” she says. “Just like the Globe.”

As an element in the design, there is no doubt that it works and some of the posters, the Othello poster, for example, looks great. The typesetting of the posters works really well and compliment the minimal feel, but the more you look at the design you can’t help but feel like it’s missing the logo.

The story behind the brand is fantastic and the concept is solid as wood (pardon the pun) but the end result is unfortunately just a circle with a woodgrain print. Oversimplification, It’s a danger that every designer faces and suffers from at some point in time and it’s so easy when we’re in the midst of a design project to get sucked into the research and the development of an idea that although undoubtedly is very cool, but has no meaning to anyone but yourself.

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