999? “We Need a Designer, There’s an International Disaster”

In a previous life I spent some time (3 years) as the Art Director of The Asian Wall Street Journal., based in Hong Kong. One of my day-to-day tasks was to design graphics suitable to brand a crisis or a disaster. It always struck me as a strange request and quite a task to illustrate such an item.

The challenge included getting the tone and sentiment correct, ensuring nothing would cause offence; somehow making the branding instantly recognisable during the immediate news period and editorial content; and then, for follow up stories, hoping the branding would provide immediate recognition of that particular event; hoping it didn’t look like another disasters’ graphics. Phew! It was a difficult day for this Art Director to have more than one crisis in a single newspaper! That would be a B#@$gger! What exactly could be suitable for events like the Kobe Earthquake - a particularly awful crisis occuring during my work experience in the 1990s?

On a day like today, September 11th 2011, the 10 years anniversary of an event I still find hard to believe or understand, I’ve noticed in the news and media coverage a striking 9/11 logostyle appear frequently. Effortlessly caputuring the visual brand requirements - *you can see the towers* -  it’s a design masterpiece. Not since the ILoveNewYork logo has anything appeared so NewYork – Alicia Keys superb song New York being the exception.

Some research leads me to discover this logostyle and brand was developed by agency, Landor Associates, a leading strategic brand and consulting design firm.  Their press release has some interesting background on the logo and brand development for the newly opened National September 11 Memorial & Museum. This quote explains:

In an effort to make the memorial distinctive and accessible to the general public, the name was shortened to “9/11 Memorial.” With the name change came the need to create a new visual identity that reinforced the spirit of rebuilding. The new visual icon is built upon two pillars of strength and solidarity. The simplistic use of the date, 9/11, with the ‘11’ standing alone in a subdued blue against the black ‘9’ and ‘Memorial’, the icon allows the gravity and authenticity of the events that occurred on 9/11 to speak for themselves.

  • For more insight into the brand please download Landor’s press release:
    [download id="1"]

It’s been quite a day, I’ve watched the coverage extensively. Best today – at wine o’clock – sometime between day and night – a brilliant red sunset lit the sky over my garden. I felt the breeze flutter on my skin and thought how lucky I am.

Learn more about Landor Associates here. If you love their work and can’t afford them, then contact me!

About the National September 11 Memorial & Museum
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum is the not-for-profit corporation created to oversee the design, raise the funds, and program and operate the Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site.  The Memorial & Museum will be located on eight of the 16 acres of the site. The Memorial will remember and honor the nearly three thousand people who died in the horrific attacks of February 26, 1993, and September 11, 2001.  The design, created by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, consists of two pools that reside in the footprints of the original Twin Towers, surrounded by a plaza of oak trees.  The Arad/Walker design was selected from a design competition that included more than 5,000 entrants from 63 nations. The Museum will display monumental artifacts associated with the events of September 11, while presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery that are central to telling the story of September 11 and its aftermath.  It will communicate key messages that embrace both the specificity and the universal implications of the events of 9/11; document the impact of those events on individual lives, as well as on local, national, and international communities; and explore the continuing significance of these events for our global community.

Visit Website National September 11 Memorial & Museum


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