The Guinness harp. A powerful, instantly recognisable global brand mark. But in the 250 or so years since Arthur Guinness started brewing his distinctive beers, the harp had begun to lack depth and character. It had become a distinctive shape with no soul. Our challenge was to breathe life back into the harp and let it sing once again…
The Guinness Storehouse – an atmospheric building located in the heart of St James’s Gate Brewery, home of Guinness – provides an inspirational environment to soak up the history of the brand. It was here that we uncovered stories like the legend of the ‘Brian Boru’ harp, a powerful symbol of Ireland’s national identity and heritage, and the inspiration for the original Guinness harp.
Our new harp design is influenced by the rich heritage of the brand and each element has its own story to tell, such as the Est.1759 type, which can be traced back to the metal stamped lettering imprinted in the ironwork and oak barrels at the Guinness Storehouse.
To reintroduce craftsmanship to the Guinness harp, we spent time with harp makers to inspire authenticity in our new design, and we worked closely with renowned illustrator Gerry Barney to bring it to life. Gerry is no stranger to Guinness, having drawn a version of the harp in the 1960s. Details like his hand-drawn typography for the new word mark (classically proportioned, and inspired by the first Guinness print adverts in the 1920s and early hand-printed labels) reflect the craft that goes into creating the distinctive beers that Guinness is known for. Collaborating with letterpress specialists New North Press, we experimented with different materials and layers to build up the brand mark, adding that all-important depth, tactility and drama.
It’s not often that you get to re-design one of the world’s most famous brand marks, so this project was a real labour of love and a shining example of our creative philosophy.
The new harp is a sympathetic revolution of the original brand mark – a contemporary take on the brand’s heritage. It can work on anything from craft beers in Europe to Limited Editions in Africa and, just like Guinness itself, has true craftsmanship at its heart. We think Arthur Guinness would be proud.