A fresh new look for Leeds College of Music

Note: This article refers to Leeds College of Music (LCoM), the former name of Leeds Conservatoire

By Kath Hartley


Leeds College of Music is delighted to launch a refreshed visual identity, revealing a new logo which reflects the conservatoire’s core values, heritage and ambition for the future.

The refreshed identity has been designed following brand research undertaken by the LCoM Marketing Department in the summer of 2016. The research findings allowed us to generate a strong positioning statement, cementing our brand values which are at the heart of our new design.

Anna Keogh, Head of Marketing Communications at Leeds College of Music explains; “Our portfolio of courses had grown considerably in recent years, and we felt that our position in the market, as a leading provider of relevant and diverse music education, needed stronger messaging and a more appropriate visual aspect to support it.

The research undertook also revealed that the current logo and brand colours didn’t represent the warm, creative, innovative and supportive environment that our students are thriving in.

 We therefore decided to refresh our visual identity and worked with staff, students, parents and the local and national music community to develop something that better represents Leeds College of Music now, and in to the future” says Anna. “This collaborative approach has ensured that our new logo and other brand assets represent our values and ambitions, and that they feel relevant to our audiences.”

The Brief

Following the initial research, we began to work with local Creative Design agency Split, led by former LCoM student Oli Bentley. Briefed with creating a refreshed identity which better represents what LCoM stands for, whilst retaining continuity from the previous identity, Oli explains;

“For continuity, we maintained the word marque at the heart of the logo, but then created a new icon around it using the L of ‘Leeds’. On a purely practical level, this creates a frame that helps the icon stand out, making it a striking stand-alone element.

By retaining the word marque, we were able to keep the main brand headline font in place, allowing us to transition to an updated identity whilst keeping brand recognition intact. As a former student, I understood the importance of avoiding the need to replace elements like signage throughout the building for example, helping save costs that could be spent elsewhere on student provision. 


Leeds College of Music Icon


The Concept

The new logo represents two key concepts, defined by the ‘L’ of Leeds College of Music and its relationship to the finished icon. Oli explains how the two characteristics work together within the design;

“We wanted to reflect both the rigour and standards of the institution as one of the UK’s few conservatoires, but at the same time reflect the forward-thinking nature – the drive to continue to innovate, and the excitement and freshness that this brings both to the institution and the students, and the music coming out of it. It’s these two sides to LCoM that I think makes it so interesting and unique.”

This is primarily reflected in the logo concept: The L is what completes the icon, representing the rigour needed to help students become music professionals who are complete in their practice, developing practical knowledge, historical or cultural awareness, and skills or musical technique.

The L is also the disruptive element – the idiosyncrasy that makes the icon stand out from any other uniform square and represents our desire for LCoM to support its students in finding their own voice that will set them apart. 

The colour palette also reflects this, with a combination of the more conservative deep navy and gold set against the much more vibrant and fresh magenta pink, orange, and bright blues. Colours from the palette will be used in pairs to create gradients, reflecting LCoM's offer of combining two pathways, and strong collaborative nature; a relevant representation of how genres work in the industry today. 





The Typography

A key facet of preserving our heritage within the refreshed identity is within the typography. Split set out to represent this through the iconic headline typeface, Rama Gothic, similar in style to the design that was prevalent throughout the music industry back in 1965, when Leeds College of Music opened its doors to offer the first Jazz degree in Europe.

“When we looked back at the iconic Jazz covers from that time, we saw that the design landscape in music at that time saw a predominant use of very similar condensed sans serif typefaces: Coltrane’s A love Supreme, Wayne Shorter’s Ju Ju, Eric Dolphy’s Out to Lunch and many more,” says Oli.  

“This wasn’t just true within Jazz either. As we looked into albums across all genres released in 1965 we found consistent use of very similar typefaces across releases from The Beatles, Bowie and The Who, to film soundtracks and classical releases. At the same time, looking forward, this is also a style of type that really stands up today and we see all sorts of really creative and exciting uses of it across the creative and cultural landscape.”


Anna Keogh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Leeds College of Music says; “We are delighted to have a refreshed identity which represents our strong position in the market and ambitions for the future. It has been so beneficial to have the involvement of our audiences, helping us generate something that feels so relevant. The concept has been fantastically brought to life by Split, to create an identity which really represents who we are.” 

By Kath Hartley

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