Established in 1983, Norwest Business Park is a 377-hectare area in the North West sector of Sydney that is home to 30,000 workers across 800 businesses and 6,000 residents. Managed and partly owned by Mulpha — an investment holding company that invests in the infrastructure, hospitality, and real estate sectors in Australia and Malaysia — the development is now being envisioned as a new city center for Sydney by 2030 simply known as Norwest, that will encompass one million square meters of retail and commercial real estate, as well as over 5,000 homes for 2,000+ businesses; 60,000+ workers; and 20,000+ residents. To help with this evolution, Norwest introduced a new identity designed by Sydney-based Re.
We started by working with the developers to envisage Norwest beyond 2030. We projected that in order to succeed, Norwest must become a beacon of innovation. It will need pioneering architecture, intelligent infrastructure and a new approach to community. Guided by this vision, the Norwest of the future will be so compelling as to be magnetic.
The concept of magnetic attraction is at the heart of the brand identity. The brandmark is inspired by the needles of a compass, with the six lines pulled north west towards Sydney’s emerging centre.
Although my favorite northwest-pointing-and-“NW”-monogram-hiding logo ever is that of the now defunct Northwest Airlines, this is a pleasing second place. The “NW” monogram is designed around the needle of a compass pointing northwest and the grouping of the repetition of that element is cleverly cropped to form an “N” and a “W”. It’s a great, abstract monogram. The wordmark also shares some northwest angles and they manage to avoid looking like a forced gimmick and instead work very well to complement the monogram and create a unique rendition of the word. I love that “r”.
The science of magnets informs a brand system that constantly reconfigures itself, but always snaps together. Copy speaks to the power of natural forces and the earth realigning. These elements create an identity that completely disrupts previous perceptions of Norwest.
The identity then comes alive through a concept of “magnetic attraction” which is half cool, half weird. I like the idea and it’s executed well but I feel that the lack of density of the monogram — meaning, it’s three loose lines for each letter — does not make for a convincing “object” that would behave like a solid block. Maybe I’m being too literal about it. I do appreciate the approach and how, in static applications, it yields layouts that aren’t just 0-, 45-, and 90-degree compositions but that use the icon and typography to create layouts with more tension.
Overall, this is a great solution for the difficult task of branding a city neighborhood, especially one that is both commercial and residential — so you can’t make it too business-y nor too home-y. Residentially-speaking though, it does hint at this being an expensive place to live, and some of the photos used in the identity — more can be seen at the bottom of Re’s project page — to speak to that aspect are a little on the douche-y side but clearly the whole development is meant to attract an affluent audience.