Erik Herrström’s identity for Whitney Houston provides space for her iconic history and legacy
“It was very important to me to stay true to the visual expressions that have been a thread through Whitney’s career,” Vienna-based graphic designer Erik Herrström tells us, discussing his visual identity for world-renowned music star Whitney Houston. “I spent a lot of time looking through her discography, music videos, movies and interviews,” he continues, continually uncovering inspiration from both the visuals of her musical legacy and the music itself, resulting in a slick, immersive brand that is informed by and celebrates Houston’s prolific, revered history.
With this in mind, Herrström opted for Freight Big as the hero typeface, explaining, “throughout her career serifs were frequently used in different ways,” tailoring the typeface to create the more bespoke letterforms of the brand’s initialised logomark. “In my research,” Herrström recalls, “I discovered the very interesting use of her initials’ WH’ in the official ‘All The Man That I Need’ music video,” leading him to realise the flexibility required in the brand, “so that’s how I ended up pitching a dynamic logotype solution,” he adds, allowing the logomark to react, flex and change in response to its context.
Sitting characterfully alongside Houston’s ordered use of type is the inclusion of the musician’s signature, adding a candid and personal tone to the stringent, hierarchical visual system. “The use of Whitney’s signature was a request from the clients,” Herrström remarks, “however, I do believe that it’s one of the few elements that has always been true to her throughout time,” once again tying the brand back to the artist’s great legacy – a motif similarly achieved through his use of colour, having characterised the soft palette from her musical releases. “We defined colours for each of her past releases,” Herrström explains, “and gave guidance to future designers to create editorial colour palettes through photos of her,” he continues. “It felt right with the many different styles and expressions she had throughout her work,” Herrström concludes, “this way all her expressive outfits and photoshoots can feel right without altering the rest of the identity.”