“I wanted to make sure we brought the magic back to the ILM logo,” noted John Knoll, Industrial Light & Magic’s Executive Creative Director, participating in one of the dozens of interviews completed over the course of the fourteen-month rebranding project for the renowned visual effects and animation studio founded by George Lucas.
“We wanted our new branding to pair closely with ILM’s mission statement, We are visual storytellers who create iconic moments to inspire the imagination”, explained Janet Lewin, SVP General Manager, ILM, “At ILM, we prioritize our culture of collaboration and community and we truly value innovation and quality. These core ideals allow us to confidently take risks and embrace the unknown on the challenging projects we seek out.”
Knoll was one of over a thousand ILM employees who provided input to twin sisters Amy and Jen Hood who own the Southern California brand identity and type design studio, Hoodzpah. As part of their exploration of ILM, its employees, its legacy, and its values, the interviews revealed fascinating insights into the company and how it has managed to keep both its creative team inspired and its technology on the cutting edge of innovation for nearly five decades. Knolls’ sentiment struck a chord and it became an oft-referred phrase as the Hoodzpah team collaborated with a core group of ILM leaders on how best to capture the company’s incredible legacy while building a unique identity system that would serve it well into the future.
“ILM has several different logos in the past forty-eight years,” explained Rob Bredow, SVP and Chief Creative Officer for ILM, “and all have incorporated the core elements from the company’s original logo, the famous wand-wielding magician framed by a large gear with the letters ‘ILM’ originally illustrated by Michael Pangrazio in the late 1970s and later finalized in a painting by renowned artist, Drew Struzan. The company and the industry have evolved substantially in the past eighteen years and we felt the time was right to develop a new brand identity that captured the global studio we’ve become.”
Now with six global studios—San Francisco, Singapore, Vancouver, London, Sydney, and Mumbai—ILM has not only revolutionized the field of visual effects with groundbreaking innovations in digital effects, performance capture, previsualization, and digital humans, and has most recently innovated in areas as diverse as real-time rendering, immersive entertainment, and virtual production with it’s Emmy Award-winning StageCraft platform.
Hoodzpah began the assignment by getting to know the company through individual and group interviews with key members of ILM’s leadership team and representatives of the employee base across all strata of the studio and each of ILM’s globe locations. Then came the task of distilling the information into key learnings. “It was remarkable given the sheer number of people we interviewed that there was such cohesion in terms of what the employees felt the brand represented and where they aspired to be,” said Jen Hood.
The new dynamic glyph and custom wordmark combine to draw from the company’s illustrious legacy while carrying it into the future. Amy Hood, explained, “The mark utilizes negative space within the silhouette of a gear giving the impression of a lightbulb contained within, both elements existed in the company’s original logo by Pangrazio and Struzan. We incorporated a swoosh trailing a spark of magic in the new mark which represents the global nature of ILM’s talent base and studios. Paired with the mark is the Industrial Light & Magic wordmark designed and set in a bold customized serif face evocative of the abbreviated type in the company’s original logo.” The team also developed updated logos for sub-brands ILM Art, ILM StageCraft, ILM Technoprops, and ILM Immersive (formerly ILMxLAB). The supporting visual identity uses cinematic colors inspired by ILM projects over the years, as well as bold type, and stark minimal layouts. The rebrand scope spanned deck templates, social media assets, a new homepage redesign, logo animations, swag, and more.
Now in its 48th year of existence, ILM continues to be a creative partner to storytellers and filmmakers alike. The talented artists, technicians, and production teams ensure that the company remains on the cutting edge as they continue to develop new techniques and technologies that allow audiences the world over to be immersed in the visuals and experiences the company helps to create.