OMSE’s comprehensive identity for Hackney Church is a masterclass in clarity and simplicity
From multiple locations in East London, Hackney Church has made a name for itself nurturing creativity, diversity and community; from hot meals, clothes swaps, coffee mornings and counselling, to knife bins, support groups, toy swaps and even their own brewery. Following a multi-million pound restoration of their primary Church, designed by renowned architect John Pawson and carried out by Thomas Ford & Partners, London-based branding agency OMSE became involved in crafting a new identity that could span their many endeavours. With multiple sub-brands, including family and kids programmes meant to support parents and give children of East London opportunities to support their community, play and prospect faith, OMSE’s identity needed to be flexible enough to bolster these individual brands, but instantly recognisable and accessible.
The result of OMSE’s work is an incredibly striking, simplistic identity system that spans the physical space of the Hackney Church as well as a strong web presence, including website design and social interactions. Beginning with iconography, OMSE took immediate inspiration from the spaces themselves, creating a primary stained-glass symbol representing the Church’s aperture, followed by a set of subsequent symbols to illustrate the other arms of the organisation – such as their brewery, apiary, charitable space and gig venue.
“We’d like the brand to continue to develop over time, and are interested in new ways to reference the window shape,” James Kape, Creative Director of OMSE explains. “Aside from this,” Kape adds, in discussing the development of the sub-brands, “the key parameters focus on using core elements such as type and colour in different ways,” utilising “imagery, illustration or photography as the key differentiator,” which changes depending on their intended audience. This can be seen already in what OMSE have produced, currently with three illustrators on board for three separate sub-brands, all local to East London. Illustrator Jay Cover was commissioned to define the identity for ‘Families of East London,’ aimed at supporting parents and guardians. Kape tells us that “Jay felt like a good choice as his jovial editorial style strikes this unique balance between serious and fun.” Meanwhile, illustrator Joe Melhuish’s wondrous 3D characters were used for Hackney Churches’ Kids Programme and illustrator Thomas Hedger drew some joyfully intricate scenes for the brewery’s identity and products.
Across the entire brand OMSE used GT Alpina, a roman serif drawn by Grilli Type, and Dinamo’s humanist sans-serif Ginto, a variant of which (Ginto Nord) was used for the Church’s youth programmes “to give these programmes a bit more edge and energy,” Kape explains. With an almost editorial twist, the two typefaces are interchangeably used across the board, utilising their versatility. Kape tells us that “typically, when we spoke about a place we used Ginto,” whilst using GT Alpina in discussing people, swapping to GT Alpina Italic “to emphasise feeling.” The vast consideration given to seemingly small elements such as these is why OMSE’s identity is so successful, a coherent concoction of simple elements culminating in a brand that is contemporary but timeless, clear but considerate, flexible but functional and fully accomplished.
Still continuing to develop Hackney Church’s sub-brands, “such as their charity Lighthouse and the identity for the upcoming cafe,” Kape tells us, OMSE still works closely with the Church as well as their in-house design team.