Warner Records is one of the world’s leading record labels, launching the careers of legendary recording artists like Frank Sinatra, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Madonna, Fleetwood Mac, Green Day, and countless others, and with a current roster of hitmakers that includes Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Li’l Pump and The Black Keys. Pentagram has created a strategy and brand identity for Warner Records that builds on this remarkable legacy and positions it for the future. The identity highlights the label’s L.A. roots with a circular logo that suggests a record, a sun and a globe. The project encompasses brand strategy and positioning, naming, messaging and digital design.
Pentagram worked closely with the company’s leadership, including U.S. Co-Chairman and CEO Aaron Bay-Schuck and U.S. Co-Chairman and COO Tom Corson, who joined the company in 2018. The project represents the latest step in the company’s evolution. In addition to the new leadership, the new identity coincides with the company’s move to a state-of-the-art headquarters in downtown Los Angeles Arts District.
The first phase of the project involved brand strategy and a renaming of the company. Originally founded in 1944, the label was known as Warner Bros. Records, and was part of the Warner Bros. group of companies until 2000. By prior agreement, after two decades, it could no longer use the iconic “WB” shield or name. To preserve the brand equity of the company’s legacy, the updated name drops “Brothers,” but keeps “Warners,” which is colloquially how the label is known. The designers also collaborated on brand strategy and messaging, helping the label create a new tagline—“Born in the California sun, at home everywhere on earth”—that emphasizes its California and L.A. roots.
This simple, straightforward approach and nod to California extends to the logo. The circular shape evokes a record, a sun, and a globe. The shape can be used as a lens or frame for a variety of content, acting as a “sponge” for color and images to promote various artists. The openness of the design gives it the flexibility to embrace all Warner Records artists and all genres of music around the world, and demonstrates that the company values creativity above all. The disk and wordmark (set in Sharp Sans) are both sliced at the bottom, suggesting a horizon line or a sunrise or sunset.