The unternehmen mitte is a Basel cultural initiative born in 1998 thanks to the Edith Maryon Foundation, which enabled the founding trio – Edith Maryon, Thomas Tschopp and Daniel Häni – to acquire the former headquarter of the Swiss Volksbank. Since then, the building has housed important social initiatives such as the well known national campaign for Basic Income. Alongside cultural events, the unternehmen mitte is also a kaffeehaus and restaurant, applying a non-profit policy where all profits are reinvested in favour of cultural advancement.
Automatico Studio was approached by the unternehmen mitte to redesign its identity, helping the institution communicate its fundamental values in a clear, compelling way. Working around the ideas of Einfach, Langsam and Gut (Simple, Slow and Good), and focusing on the original name unternehmen mitte, the new identity largely revolves around the UM monogram. The monogram places emphasis on the name, which in the past has often been mistaken with names such as Mitte, Fumare non Fumare, The Volksbank. The monogram is complementary to UM’s new identity and has created a very recognisable graphic signature.
The identity is articulated through a dynamic system where its communication is not based on marketing, but on the idea of spreading messages throughout culture. Using concrete poetry as main inspiration, each application is created using only typography and designed to bring different layers of meaning to the public. A consistent approach which has also involved the unternehmen mitte’s sub-brands, vegan ice cream Gelato Vegano and its Ape bar Kaffee Mobil.
The redesign also impacted the building facade, where the idea of bringing new light is emphasized by the new typographic neon sign at the entrance of the building. It also spread through a city poster campaign based on the use of screen printed shades of white. The poster focused on the UM monogram and was designed to celebrate the refreshed identity of the unternehmen mitte and its values of openness and inclusivity.