Snøhetta to work with Wikipedia community on brand identity

Snøhetta has teamed up with the Wikimedia Foundation to develop a new visual identity for its global organisation that will be generated in partnership with volunteers from around the world.

The nonprofit organisation that operates Wikipedia asked Norwegian design and architecture firm Snøhetta to help it create a branding system, that supports Wikimedia's stated objective of "setting knowledge free".

Snøhetta to work with Wikipedia community on new brand identity

Since it launched in 2001, Wikipedia has become the internet's largest public encyclopaedia and is now accessed by more than 1.5 billion devices each month.

The Wikimedia organisation encompasses a range of free knowledge projects, including Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikinews and Wikidata.

The foundation's owners were concerned that the existing Wikimedia name and branding is not known or understood by many people, which is having a negative impact on its potential for expansion.

By shifting the focus of the brand onto the much more familiar Wikipedia name, the organisation is hoping to simplify the way it presents its projects and purpose to volunteers, partners and donors.

Snøhetta to work with Wikipedia community on new brand identity

Wikimedia said it chose to partner with Snøhetta because of its "experience in building everything from libraries to national park identities".

It also pointed to the firm's history of using collaborative methods for generating concepts.

"Snøhetta has a long-standing commitment to developing socially sustainable design solutions that promote a sense of collective ownership and engagement with civic life," said Heather Walls, chief creative officer of the Wikimedia Foundation.

"We chose Snøhetta as our strategic design partner for their demonstrated ability to develop strong, visual brand identities that transcend geographical boarders and bring people together," she added.

"Snøhetta's commitment to working creatively, openly and together was the perfect fit for the project, and we're thrilled to be working with them."

Snøhetta to work with Wikipedia community on new brand identity

Central to the project will be the network of more than 250,000 volunteers who contribute to Wikipedia's operation and upkeep.

Snøhetta will meet with some of these volunteers in person and online throughout the first half of 2020 to gather insight.

The information gathered by Snøhetta during this phase will form the basis for draft design concepts that will be shared on a dedicated website. The Wikipedia community will then be invited to share comments and contributions.

Snøhetta to work with Wikipedia community on new brand identity

"Our collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation allows us to explore and expand our understanding of co-creation in the digital sphere," said Snøhetta strategic advisor Sanda Zahirovic, "and we are very excited for the opportunity to work closely with Wikimedia and its community to achieve this."

Feedback generated by the volunteer network on the website will help to guide the project's progress and shape an updated identity that will be released in the second half of 2020.

Snøhetta to work with Wikipedia community on new brand identity

Snøhetta is best known for major architectural projects, such as the new library of Alexandria in Egypt, the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York City.

The firm also works on projects ranging from furniture and interiors, to examples of product and graphic design. It previously designed new banknotes featuring pixellated images of Norwegian coastlines for the country's treasury, and used recycled plastic from fish farms to create a chair based on a 1960s design.