I visited the new Victoria Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) this week, which is also the new home to Melbourne’s world renowned Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
The building also looks to have inspired the new visual identity for ‘Peter Mac’.
In a press release on their website earlier this year, it was announced that it would be “transitioning to a new visual identity that is more contemporary as we embark on the next phase in our 65+ years of caring for our community”.
The press release was fairly light on, however reading between the lines it seems those in charge deemed the playful, yet dated, familiar Peter Mac signature brand mark was in need of a refresh because it didn’t reflect the seriousness or gravitas of the groundbreaking research that goes on at the centre. That’s the assumption I’m making from comparing the old and the new, at least.
While the previous Peter Mac logo was certainly in need of a refresh, it communicated personalised care, compassion and hope. The new Peter Mac logo looks cold, clinical, medical, very serious and has clearly been influenced by the contemporary architecture of the new VCCC. Is a building the right inspiration for a brand that is actually about people and changing lives? I really don’t think so, and I think they have an unfortunate mistake.
It got me thinking about the difference between designing a logo and developing a brandmark.
In isolation, the new Peter Mac logo is a nice enough ‘design’. It looks clean and it has clearly been developed by a professional. It’s impactful, it works in horizontal application, or as a stacked device. It will sit well when reduced, and therefore work as a complimentary brand amongst other institutions. Its shape lends itself to developing supporting graphics and devices.
As a piece of Graphic Design it works on a number of levels, but what is it actually communicating ? What role is it playing brand positioning? While the previous Peter Mac identity was certainly starting to look dated, and a little childish and naive, it had emotion and personality. Everyone knows that cancer is scary and serious, but Peter Mac looked positive and hopeful. Now they look more like an architecture firm.
Great brandmarks are a combination of design and brand strategy. There are plenty of graphic designers out there who can craft a beautiful logo, but developing a brandmark and visual identity that can effectively communicate and shape perception requires real clarity of strategy first.
From the outside looking in (that is, what I’ve been able to find online) Peter Mac’s complex strategic plan hasn’t been distilled with clarity into a simple and focused brand strategy to guide their identity refresh. As a result, they have ended up with a new logo inspired by their remarkable building, instead of an inspiring brandmark that captures their remarkable vision.