Centre for London brand refresh highlights value of inclusive design


London charity’s brand refresh stresses the importance of inclusivity, both visually and in the structure of its redesign process.

With their new look launched today, London’s think tank, Centre for London, aims to be “a voice for all London is, and could be”. Combining a dynamic visual identity that represents the city’s diversity, alongside positive and inviting language that avoids overly technical jargon, Centre for London has opted for a rebrand that speaks to all Londoners. The redesign is part of their strategy to realise a vision of a “safe, connected, post-carbon and pro-nature” London, that “is welcoming to all”.


Centre for London’s brand refresh was created in partnership with Studio Emmi. Its founder and Creative Director, Emmi Salonen, is an advocate for design bringing people together. Her principle of ‘positive creativity’ has been integral to the think tank’s goal of making its work demonstrably more connected with London’s people and places. Also crucial to the process was Consultant Brand Strategist, Laura Hunter, as the lead on messaging and planner behind the shift to a warmer tone of voice.

Studio Emmi’s challenge was to communicate complex and varied London issues (from the decarbonisation of its transport network to tackling the ongoing housing crisis) without using stereotypical images of the capital, and instead applying a more human-centred approach. Another consideration was to ensure that the visual identity could flex to accommodate new topics and issues as London continues to evolve.

A crucial element of Centre for London’s rebrand is a new dynamic logo. This sees the letter O in ‘for’ become a showpiece for illustrating the multifaceted nature of their work, and the range of policy issues they cover. By default – applied in the logo as a circular dot that conveys the think tank being at the centre of the capital – the dot is also an expressive space, which can change colour and shape depending on the context of its application.

The identity system allows its visual volume to be adjusted from bold, graphic, functional documents to expressive visuals that lead with photography, showcasing people at the heart of London’s issues. Topics are brought further alive by using textured, close-up patterns taken from the city’s streets, infrastructure and homes, adding detail and narrative to its communications.

As well as in its presentation to external audiences, Centre for London’s redesign also stressed the importance of participation and inclusion from an internal perspective. This was achieved via a hybrid model of working. Studio Emmi mentored and collaborated with the think tank’s own in-house Senior Designer, Klara Blazek, who has been involved from concept creation to implementation. The successful partnership highlights the merits of this unusual approach.

Offering greater branding involvement to an internal designer has an upskilling effect, providing additional experience than ordinarily possible. Furthermore, it strengthens the organisational ownership of the end product, providing greater assurance that the brand can live on in future as originally conceived, with a staff member responsible for its practical application in day-to-day usage. The Centre chose to prioritise upskilling alongside rebranding despite limited financial resources.

The innovative methods behind the Centre for London brand refresh could pave the way for similar redesigns in the third sector in future, where budget and staffing constraints may present the best opportunity for more collaborative methods.

Klara Blazek, Senior Designer at Centre for London, said: 

“I am grateful that as an in-house designer, I had the opportunity to be involved in the full rebranding process, starting from conceptual ideation. I felt valued in every phase and provided Emmi with extra insight into Centre for London’s needs and how the brand would ultimately function. This allowed us to create a visual identity that would not falter when practically applied. Because of Emmi’s mentorship and assurance that my ideas would be incorporated, I am confident in the brand and my ability to work with it successfully in the future.”

Emmi Salonen, Founder & Creative Director at Studio Emmi, said:
“I’m passionate about creating visual identities and finding the best way to express the character and mission of my clients’ businesses. Despite the deliverables including identity guidelines, there’s often a gap between what I hand over and how someone implements the designs after I have left the project. . With Centre for London however, I was able to mentor and upskill Klara throughout the process. We included her thinking and ideas in the development, which meant she not only understood why any given decision was made, but also now has the full toolkit to ensure the visual identity is sustainable in its use for years to come.”


Nick Bowes, Chief Executive at Centre for London, said: 

“I’m delighted with our new branding, which is both professional and eye-catching, and designed to speak to and on behalf of the entire city. With this, Centre for London offers a refreshed visual identity that will support our work to make the city a better place to live, work and visit.”