New brand identity

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra has updated its brand identity. An important element is the eye-catching photography by Carli Hermès. How does this world class photographer see his role in the process, and how does he go about it?
New brand identity

Enticing pictures

Since January 2024 the Concertgebouw Orchestra has a new brand identity, a result of the orchestra’s growing ambition to reach people of all ages and backgrounds. This new visual identity, developed by design agency Motif, gives the orchestra a more direct and emotional appeal and it also works very well with digital media.

The crown motif will be retained and given a prominent place as the pictorial mark in visual communications, in combination with the diamond shape. The word Koninklijk (Royal) is also back in the logo, and international communications will use the orchestra’s English name. This will increase recognition, by both people we already know and segments of the population that we want to reach better. We’ll be relying more on images in order to get the attention of potential new audiences.

‘I make portraits, pictures with the energy and the feel of the music, so that you want to hear what you’re seeing. Music is energy.'

The orchestra will be working with the photographer Carli Hermès over the coming months. Everyone knows Hermès, although they may not be aware of it. His photos appear in many advertising campaigns, as well as in national and international magazines. His non-commissioned work is also highly regarded. Now it’s the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s turn to call on his unique visual language. ‘The message has to be recognisable in text and image.’

Energy and emotion

'I always begin by taking a good look at the material that the client already has’, says Carli Hermès about his approach. ‘With a group like the Concertgebouw Orchestra you can’t stray too far from tradition. And I have to stay true to myself too.’
Hermès’ work always revolves around people – and his work for the orchestra is no exception. ‘I make portraits, pictures that have the energy and the feel of the music, so that you want to hear what you’re seeing. Music is energy. And the emotion that the music conveys has to be recognisable.’
Energy and emotion are the key words which the photographer, born in 1963 in Schijndel, makes such a splash. His pictures are arresting, and make the viewer look again, and then again, to fathom their meaning and power. Hermès discovered photography in the School voor Fotografie in The Hague. ‘I wanted to create, and I found visual thinking really interesting – telling a story using pictures.’

Carli Hermès during the photo shoot for the Essentials series (photo: Milagro Elstak)

Medium without words

He had already been exposed to photography at home. His father was a fervent amateur photographer, and on school trips the young Hermès was often given a camera so he could capture the goings-on. ‘That was unique back then. Today every young person has a mobile phone in their pocket, but at the time it was unusual to taking photos of everything around you. That’s where the seed was planted for me.’
Although the photographer has established an international reputation, he was still surprised when the Concertgebouw Orchestra approached him. ‘I took the request seriously, right away. The orchestra’s idea of working together for at least a year appealed to me; that fits well with me. And suddenly I thought: some cheekier photos with that orchestra would be cool.’

'Music is always in me. Just like pictures, it’s a medium without words, without text.’

Something iconic

The orchestra is working with Hermès for a year and a half (through the 2024/2025 season) after which other photographers will take over. ‘It is really great, important and fun to do’, is how Hermès sums up the assignment. ‘And it’s wonderful that it has to do with music. That’s something I relate to. I play trumpet and saxophone, and I grew up with music. Now my oldest son plays in a band. Music is always in me. Just like pictures, it’s a medium without words, without text.’

Hermès’ earlier work will be used for concert announcements. He is also taking new photos for the orchestra, which will be used for communications such as posters and online content. And for the cover of the new season brochure, which will come out in March. What is his idea for the brochure? ‘It has to become something iconic’, say Hermès. ‘There has to be something of Amsterdam in it, figuratively, and of course that emotion, that imagination. But I don’t set everything in stone beforehand. Often it comes to me while I’m improvising; then I can ultimately make something I couldn’t have imagined making before.’

Speaking with pictures

Hermès has also taken photos for Essentials, the series for audiences with little or no experience of orchestral music. These photos put the orchestra musicians at the centre. ‘When a musician plays an instrument, you feel the emotion and the movement right away. It’s full of energy!’ He’s happy that his photos are being used in this way, to attract a new and younger audience via digital media. ‘I speak in pictures. That’s my language. The younger generation has discovered and developed that language more and more over the last twenty years, so I think we’ll understand each other just fine.’

By: Paul Janssen