A unifying identity for Oslo

The City of Oslo and Creuna have developed a new, user-friendly identity that will make it easier for the municipality to communicate clearly and holistically with its residents.

Oslo is completely transformed, compared to 30 years ago. In terms of quality of life, sustainability and aesthetics, it has become a leader. The residents of Oslo, happy with their city, view it as safe, diverse and exciting. But Oslo’s municipal government has a vague identity and doesn’t enjoy the same warmth of recognition. The fact that Oslo is perceived as safe and highly personal, is driven by the services that municipality provides, but isn’t well known for. In this gap - between a positive perception of Oslo and the potential for the municipality to be more visible clearer - lies the opportunity to build stronger bonds between Oslo’s residents and the Oslo municipality.

A more distinctive Oslo

The City of Oslo has a clear need to be more distinctive and identifiable. The municipality operates many types of services and communicates with many different target groups. There are over 250 municipal logos in use. Therefore, it is unclear to many residents what the municipality does. 

Our solution to this challenge is a new visual identity in which the City of Oslo communicates more holistically. The result meets universal design requirements, so that it can be used by everyone. The solution also aims for simplification and greater efficiency. It is estimated that the current fragmented approach to communications costs municipality NOK 40 million each year. The new identity will gradually be implemented over the next few years.

A simplified and modernized logo

With the solution, all businesses in the Oslo municipality have been gathered under a common identity with a single logo. This makes it easier for citizens to understand everything the municipality does and contributes to. The new City of Oslo logo shows Saint Hallvard in symbolic format. This new logo is based on Oslo's current city seal designed in 1924, which itself is the latest iteration of a long series of Oslo city seals since the middle ages. The representative drawing of St. Hallvard is simplified and modernized, but still carries the same iconic story. The line weight and details were designed to work in all sizes – from smart phones to big signs. Oslo's city seal will continue to be used in traditional contexts, and through artistic and historical renditions. 

Room for flexibility

The new visual identity is unified yet allows for flexibility in communication. Oslo’s municipal enterprises have great flexibility to use the toolbox to create individualized communications solutions. The design system also makes it possible to be formal, informal and dynamic.  From sober, authoritative communication, to a lighthearted playful style - and everything in between - the full range of expression is possible within the design.The combination of being uniform and flexible means that the municipal enterprises now actually want to use the new identity.

High degree of inclusivity

This has been a process with a high degree of involvement. More than 1,500 residents, representatives of the business community and large parts of Oslo's municipal enterprises have been included in the work. Various solutions have been tested systematically along the way. Different groups have considered the proposals in all stages, with different alternatives, in several rounds. 

Oslo Digital Design Assistant

To help reduce the barriers, and costs of benefitting from good design, we created the Oslo digital design assistant. Anyone working for the City of Oslo’s agencies can log into the online tool, input some basic information, upload photos, and the tool automatically generates a range of design layouts and options for them. The designs can be exported to PDF or other formats.

Color Palette

The colors of the identity are taken from Oslo’s cityscape: blue from the iconic Oslo trams and the fjord; green from the parks, fields and Oslo’s protected forests; warm and neutral colors inspired by the facades of the city's buildings.

Typography

We have developed Oslo Sans, a bespoke typeface for the project, and given it a central role in the identity. Oslo Sans is inspired by many generations of streets signs in Oslo. The font adheres to the principles of universal design and is made with a utilitarian focus aiming to be functional and timeless, yet distinct enough to be recognized. A quirky detail is that the dots on the letters “i”, “j” and punctuation marks alternate automatically (built into the font as contextual alternates), to reflect the Oslo shapes and are noticeable when used in larger sizes.

Oslo shapes

The shapes, a result of forms found inside the symbol, abstractly refer to forms often found in the cityscape. The three basic shapes may be assembled in an infinite amount of ways and are the basic components of the design system. They are the foundation of a new and flexible design system and can also form compositions of “Oslo” as a word picture.

Illustration

The illustration style is based on the Oslo forms, where the shapes are used as building blocks to create patterns. Simplicity helps to make illustrations distinctive.

Movement and animation

Movement is a central part of Oslo's identity. A dynamic motion pattern is defined, that makes the identity easily recognizable when it comes to life in various media formats.

Icons

The icons are based on the Oslo forms, the special features of the basic graphic elements and the font Oslo Sans. The icons should be easily recognizable and give Oslo municipality a clear presence, whether presented digitally or physically.