February 29th, 2016
I know what you’re thinking.
Why did they change the Met logo to this? The letters are awkwardly squished together and it’s a complete departure from the old logo. And why is there so much emphasis on “The” anyway?
As a former art student who was very familiar with the iconic logo for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I am going to agree with you—the new logo is not my favorite. As a designer that sees an enormous amount of identity rebrands, I believe that, despite all of the negative reactions, the new “The Met” logo is not that bad.
The previous “M” logo has worked as a stand-alone icon for years. People recognize it from the geometric shapes that surround the letter and the circles that protrude from its serifs. But with a total of seven circles, one square, and three additional lines included behind the single letter M, it feels like it’s a bit too much.
With just six letters used, the new logotype does not need any additional elements to support it. The spaces that would normally be found between the letters have been removed and the letters have physically morphed together into two long ligatures. Sure, it feels as if the combination of the letters is a bit forced in some areas, but the two words are still perfectly legible. Scale it down to the size of a dime, and you will still be able to read the letters clearly. Do the same with the old logo and the detail of the lines and circles are lost. A simple and effective logo should work at any size for a wide range of purposes.
Beginning in March, the six-letter logo will accompany an entirely new brand identity for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The new look will be seen on advertisements, printed collateral, mobile devices and the museum website to name a few. Since the logo has taken on a more streamlined look, it will translate seamlessly across each piece of media without losing the integrity of the brand.
The sans-serif typeface conveys a sense of oldness—one that has history behind it, but is still timeless. It feels appropriate next to a piece of Ancient Egyptian art as well as a painting by Monet. There are no stylistic elements to distract from the art around it, but rather just a small block of letters that are generic enough to be seen anywhere in the museum without feeling out of place. It is nothing over the top or eye-catching. It’s a safe route, but it works.
To anyone who has never experienced it, it’s “The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” To New Yorkers, it’s “The Met.” So why drop the full name and associate the museum’s brand with just a nickname? First, “The Metropolitan Museum of Art” is a mouthful. By shortening the logo to “The Met,” the museum lives up to the personality New York has given it. It’s easy to say and feels accessible to the everyday visitor. The logo itself tells you what you need to know without anything else supporting it. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art” shouldn’t feel like a place your Art History professor requires you to go to. “The Met” should be a place that is intriguing and enjoyable for everyone. With a brand refresh like this, the museum could attract a greater audience simply because it’s logo alone makes it more relatable to the average person.
Let’s be honest: People don’t like change. When something they’ve grown accustomed to suddenly changes, they usually have something to say about it. In the case of The Met logo, there’s a lot of backlash on the new look. Google experienced the same thing when they released the new Google logo in 2015. Just a few months later, the world has comfortably adjusted, or simply forgotten that is has changed. The same could be said about the new logo for The Met. Some will love it; many will hate it. And in a few months, everyone will have already moved past it. The Met’s logo has changed before, and there’s a good chance it will change again in the future. For a brand that carries so much history behind it, it’s important that the logo can evolve and grow with the museum to fit in with current societal trends.
A good brand has an attractive logo that entices people to stop and look before wondering what lies behind it. A great brand has a logo that takes the backseat to let the product or service shine in the spotlight. How long did you stare at the Google logo the last time you went to search something? Odds are, you didn’t give it a second glance. And if The Met has succeeded in its re-brand, everyone will be focused on the art inside the museum instead of the logo on the outside of it.