Established in 1993, Louisville Public Media (LPM) is an independent, community supported not-for-profit corporation that operates the three National Public Radio (NPR) member stations in Louisville, Kentucky, as well as a newly established investigative unit. The stations are: 89.3 WFPL News Louisville, that provides local, national and international news; 90.5 WUOL Classical Louisville, focusing on classical music and fine arts; and 91.9 WFPK Independent Louisville, that showcases independent, alternative music. The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR) “shines the light of accountability on the people and institutions in power”. Together, the stations count with more than 200,000 weekly listeners. Late last year, LPM introduced a new identity designed by Lexington, KY-based Bullhorn.
The old logo was lame but not necessarily bad… okay, maybe a little bad with the weird power button slash clock icon and the strange de-emphasizing of “Media” in the name. The new logo isn’t a bastion of excitement either but it’s simple and efficiently done. The three squares make an “L”, which isn’t overly original either; London Luton Airport, for one, already did it. And the wordmark is not doing much. So, you might think, why even bother showing this? Because see below.
The squares in the main logo open up into a simple, beautiful system for each of the stations — all of which had awful (and awfully cohesive) logos — that allows for different expressions of the name and station number. It’s not a creatively revolutionary idea but it’s perfectly suited for this particular client that has an icon made of three squares and each of those squares can expand to represent each of its three stations. The investigative unit is a kind of third-wheel (fourth, to be literal) as they have to repeat the same lock-up as with 89.3 but we’ll allow it since they probably combat public officials using tax dollars to sext at work while stealing pens from the supply closet, or something.
Another great element to the identity is some appropriate sonic branding — you can hear the main mnemonic here and how it works as a system at Bullhorn’s project page (look for the “how does it sound?” headline). It sounds super NPR-ish and I love how there is a guitar and synth version for the appropriate stations.
A number of radio station redesigns have come through my inbox and most of them are fine but ultimately bland… somehow being companies that you listen to rather than look at makes their design less ambitious. But this one acts like it’s NPR itself and aims to create some excitement not just about the stations but the parent brand that helps drive them through community engagement, which is a big deal since the local community provides 91% of its funding. Anyway… there might be a slight case of square overload but the render of the tote with the more abstract square composition is pretty slick.
The color palette and layout consistency in the social media space is crisp and effective in establishing a clear link between the three stations and their UIs look almost like they took a page out of Google’s Material Design. Overall, this is a solid identity that’s well thought out and perfectly suited for the client.