The National began as an obscure indie band that formed in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1999. The band members consist of singer Matt Berninger and two lots of brothers: Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf. Managing the relationships between so many siblings in a group of five people must have made for some unique challenges for the band. Nonetheless, they have been working very hard for almost twenty years, and have recently released their seventh studio album, Sleep Well Beast. By now, The National have become very well-known and successful, with legions of devoted fans eagerly awaiting each new album. They are certainly my favourite group of middle-aged sad Dads making music today.
This time around, The National have put out another impeccable album. One thing they have done differently is the amount of attention they’ve devoted to its design. In a somewhat surprising move, the band has commissioned design giants Pentagram to create a brand identity of sorts, including with a logo and an entire suite of collateral. In addition to the standard album covers, posters, and the like, they have a full set of corporate brand guidelines, and even staplers and tape dispensers. The extent of the branding is a bit of a joke, according to Pentagram. The bass player, Scott Devendorf has previously worked for Pentagram’s New York office, so the band hasn’t needed much external help in the design department in the past. However, the scale of the the branding project is reflective of the band’s rising success, no matter how tongue-in-cheek it may be.
The logo featured an abbreviated “Ntl” housed in a house-shaped device, and rendered in the safest, most corporate blue imaginable. The house is actually taken from the purpose-made barn-like studio the band recorded much of the album in. The album cover features behind-the-scenes photography by Graham MacIndoe, and The Collected Works, and Casey Reas has been enlisted to create several music videos for the band. Whether the fans get the joke or not, there can’t be too many complains about the minimal, yet nostalgic design. Find out more on Pentagram’s website.