The Academy Behind the Oscars Gets a New Identity

Academy-Rebrand-1With the Oscars around the corner, a new identity for the Academy that’s behind it all couldn’t have come at a better time. While the Academy might be synonymous with the film industry, they seriously lack a visual representation and often get lumped in with their iconic effigy. California based agency, 180LA, set about bringing the Academy from the shadows and literally into the spotlight, introducing a modern identity of pure class. A rebranding that manages to reach for the future without forgoing the decades of history under the Academy’s wings.


Established in 1927 by 36 industry members, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) is an organization dedicated “to the advancement of the arts and sciences of motion pictures.” Doesn’t sound familiar? Surely you’ve heard of them in almost every acceptance speech ever at the Oscars, “I’d like to thank the Academy, my Mom, Steven, the neighbor’s cat…” Beyond the Oscars, the Academy is involved in numerous educational, outreach, preservation and research activities, as well as managing a library, archive, council, and—come 2017—a museum. With a hand in everything, it seems they’ve been in dire need of an identity to tie everything together.


At the centre of the brand’s redesign is the logo. The logo is the platform for a brand to extend its influence further cross-platform, exactly what the Academy requires. And boom, 180LA’s verdict nailed it. They employed a seemingly simple creative decision, to highlight the Oscar via spotlight.


The result? An “A,” representing the Academy, which also happens to bear their superstar statuette. Not only does this design give way to the Academy’s presence, but it also represents the AMPAS efforts to support creative arts and sciences through the symbolic use of a spotlight. Love it.


The little shift of light that seems to make it all come together puts a smile to my face. How clever and creative—sometimes you needn’t venture too far, an answer might be within arm’s reach. As far as typography, which you see a lot of, they made the decision to go ahead with Futura. The pairing feels modern without sacrificing the class and prestige that has been synonymous with the Academy and their awards show.


What struck me as most interesting is the doors this branding has opened up, seen in the examples of patterning or the Academy’s magazine, where 180LA’s head of design, Richard Harrington, comments, “[We] can invite other artists, photographers and film-makers to interpret the A shape as a visual constant through everything from poster design to magazine covers right down to something as simple as a business card.”


The new design has already gone live, appearing wherever the Academy does. Be sure to catch a glimpse of it when the Oscars nominations are announced this week, Thursday the 16th.

January 13, 2014 / By