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New Work: Vsauce

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As YouTube has matured into a source of original programming with audiences to rival those of any television network, its homegrown channels and series are finding themselves in the enviable position of needing many of the elements of more traditional broadcasting, including branding.

Pentagram’s Natasha Jen and her team have collaborated with YouTube to develop a new brand identity for Vsauce, the group of wildly popular educational channels that feature videos on science, technology, gaming, and more. Establishing a cohesive look for the Vsauce platform, the identity plays off the unusual name and playful point of view with “fluid” typography and fresh, contemporary graphics.

Shake Shack: Branding a Better Burger

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As every Shackburger fan knows, Shake Shack serves some of the best burgers in the world. And now, with a recent IPO that has valued the company at a staggering $1.6 billion, more of the world will get to know the Shack: From its roots as a hot dog stand in New York’s Madison Square Park, the company has grown into a chain of 63 restaurants from Chicago to Dubai, and plans to use the additional funds to expand to over 400 locations in the next decade.

Tastiness of its burgers aside, no small part of Shake Shack’s success is due to its sophisticated sense of design, expressed in an iconic brand identity and environmental graphics by Pentagram’s Paula Scher and original restaurant architecture by James Wines and his firm SITE. (Shake Shack even noted its fantastic brand awareness as an asset in IPO prospectus.)

“The modernness of the identity is perfect in keeping with the quality of the food,” says Scher. “Shake Shack looks back to the classic burger stand but is a contemporary fast-food chain with a high-level product. It’s invented a whole new category.”

College Football Playoff Wins Big

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Last night Ohio State triumphed over Oregon 42-20 to win the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Watched by a capacity crowd of 85,689 in the stands and a cable television record of 33.4 million viewers—ESPN’s largest audience and highest overnight rating ever—the game represents a stunning success for the new era in college football.

Pentagram’s Michael Gericke and his team created an iconic trophy and visual identity to build the foundation for the new four-team playoff and raise its profile in the national conversation. The designs were fundamental elements in shaping every aspect of a mega sports event that combines the excitement of a tournament with a championship game on par with the Super Bowl.

Sleek and contemporary, the 24-karat gold, bronze and stainless steel trophy expands on the identity originally created by Michael Gericke and Matt McInerney for College Football Playoff. The symbol’s two rising brackets represent the coming together of the best teams in the playoff system and form the shape of a virtual football—the four laces of the ball portray the four playoff teams.

Healing U.S. Healthcare

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In his new high-profile book America’s Bitter Pill, the journalist and media entrepreneur Steven Brill explores the complex issues around American health care and healthcare reform, from the hard-won fight for the Affordable Care Act to the inner workings of Big Pharma, hospital pricing and the insurance industry. Pentagram’s Michael Bierut and his team have created a pair of striking illustrations for the cover story on the book in this week’s New York Times Book Review, using adhesive bandages to form images of the United States and the American flag.

To create the illustrations, Bierut and Pentagram designer Britt Cobb collected stock images of bandages and painstakingly placed them at various sizes to form a silhouette of the continental US (made with 272 bandages) for the cover and the Stars and Stripes (72 bandages) for an interior spread. The country’s diversity of healthcare approaches is reflected in the sheer variety of bandages, from typical “Band-Aid”-style strips of different colors to unusual shapes like butterfly and spot bandages.