St Giles and logo design for the real world

It’s such a delight to finally discuss this project – it’s been a slow burner. Every time I’ve thought we’ve reached a milestone, some new aspect of it takes shape and has me hanging on a little longer before talking about it. But this one – this is very much it. For all my love of things digital, there’s something truly satisfying about seeing logo design for the real world, out there in three dimensions.

We’ve been working with Rev’d Tom Sander since the spring of 2021 on a way of presenting St Giles in the Fields, the church in the very heart of London of which he is rector, in a more modern way. St Giles is a short walk from Tottenham Court Road tube station, an 18th Century church that stands in still continuity amid the totemic infrastructure of modern London: the Elizabeth Line and Google’s offices on St Giles High Street. Our work has defined a logo for the church as well as rolled it out to animation, social graphics and most recently, the restoration of a church sign to the porch.

Creating an identity for an icon

It seems like a lifetime ago at this point, but back in the deep winter lockdown of 2021, I had an email from nowhere asking if we could quote for doing a logo for a church. I distinctly remember getting the message, setting up the call and afterwards realising that we simply had to do this project. In a lifetime of wandering around central London, not least along Tottenham Court Road, through Soho Square, up Denmark Street, around Shaftesbury Avenue, doing the cut-through along Manette Street to Greek Street… I’d passed the church countless times, yet in that classically blasé Londoner way of looking down not looking up. It was part of my life without my realising it.

It turned out St Giles has a particularly special spire. And I know this, because in the course of the last three years I have now climbed that spire and looked out across the rooftops of London, Mary Poppins-style. It’s important to mention this because the spire plays such an important part of this story. Our initial designs did not feature it, rather focussing on St Giles himself, the tiles in the church or the typography within. Rev’d Tom wasn’t sure.

Having discussed our ideas with Tom (who had in turn discussed it with the PCC), we all came to the conclusion that the spire had to be a part of the logo. The only challenge being that a very tall narrow logo is a really tricky prospect. A logo like that just resembles a little point (and indeed would have little point). However, in the process of this we began to wonder if we could stylise the steeple and combine it with the G of St Giles, creating a central icon that was rounder and more satisfying visually. In turn, that G could then be used as the social icon too. And so it has proved.

The typography is a mix of styles deliberately. St Giles itself is modern, while the italic serif below is inspired by type within the church on a wall-mounted memorial slab. The combination shouldn’t work but does. I really love it.

Logo design for the real world for St Giles in the Fields church

It’s a sign

Back in March, we were working on some social media graphics for St Giles – which are now used week-in-week-out on their Instagram and Twitter channels. There have been so many mini-endeavours along the way and I’ve collated all the details of that piece of work and everything else we’ve done on a single project page.

But amid all this, Tom called me saying that he’d found the original St Giles church sign in the crypt and was keen to restore it back in its rightful place on the street. Did I know anyone who could do this? Quick answer, no – but leave it with me.

I got hold of signwriter Archie Proudfoot, who I’ve been a fan of for many years and he directed me to Hana Sunny, who accepts commissions of this kind and works from a studio in Peckham. We had a chat, she expressed massive interest in the project and went to take a look at the decidedly cobwebby sign and measure it up. In the course of all this, the structure of the sign was examined much more closely and it was realised that the timber frame was badly damaged with rot and that would need replacing, but we could retain its dimensions as well as two huge metal emblems bolted through the wood as a key feature of the new sign.

By this point we’d already worked up a layout for the sign including the historical information and mission of St Giles, as well as the service times and contact information Tom was keen to include. On a computer screen it all seemed rather abstract and soulless, but the same could not be said of the day I went down to Hana’s studio back in May to watch her at work painting and gilding the sign with our logo and layout. I took a lot of photos that day, some of which are below and showcase the fascinating process that was central to the finishing of the sign.

It was nothing short of extraordinary to see our digital type, the outlines of which were pricked through to the blue surface, gradually come to life as a beautiful finished piece. I must say I remain in awe.

The finished sign outside St Giles in the Fields church in October 2023

Creating logo design for the real world

This fabulous sign is one of the projects I’m most proud of in our portfolio. The balance of creativity, a beautiful logo and the work of a truly talented creative team leaves me deeply satisfied. The sign was finally installed this October, while St Giles had a firm of contractors working on other building and restoration projects and available to position it perfectly.

It’s a piece of street furniture that will remain in central London informing passersby, the curious and churchgoers for many years. I’m incredibly thrilled at that thought.

The project has me excited and wondering what else we can do within this frame of creativity and logo design for the real world, that actually sits on the street. Might you have a project like that? We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call on 020 7351 4083 or email direct.