Identity Designed is a showcase of brand identity projects from around the world.

Virgin Galactic

Contributed by Paula Benson of London-based Form.

Virgin Galactic branding

We have recently completed the new and eagerly-awaited marketing and promotional materials for pioneers of commercial space travel — Virgin Galactic — consisting of a 5-colour brochure with DVD, a flyer and limited edition HD laminated, foil-blocked box.

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Featuring new images of the VMS Eve mothership and VSS Enterprise spacecraft in flight, exclusive photos and quotes from the future astronauts, and a visual of the Foster + Partners designed Spaceport America in the New Mexico, the brochure has been designed to fulfill the brief from Virgin Galactic — to communicate that commercial spaceflight is no longer a dream, but a reality — and indeed, that deposits are now accepted. The test flight programme for the new space vehicles is currently underway, prior to the start of the world’s first regular commercial manned spaceflight service.

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

The brochure design is based on a structured yet flexible grid allowing a lively, considered layout and features stunning imagery and muted colour palette.

The brochure also features:

  • A fold-out cover detailing the history of spaceflight
  • Centre section throw-out illustrating the journey into space with relevant altitudes
  • Explanations of the actual experience (eg. how travelling at 4 times the speed of sound and floating in zero gravity really feels)
  • Information about technology and safety issues
  • Classic but poignant quotes about discovery and exploration from authors like Mark Twain which pepper the pages, together with quotes from the likes of Burt Rutan – the aeronautical design inspiration for the launch system and founder of Scaled Composites where the mothership and spaceship were built and are now being tested.
  • Wide, asymmetric borders for the photos (influenced from the iconic images taken from the Hubble telescope which were often seen with ‘staggered’ borders when imaged together).
  • Back cover throw-out with the very sexy Virgin Galactic Girl logo!
  • Printing in 4 colour process with silver, and gloss sealer throughout, plus a high-gloss laminated cover to represent the spacecraft.

The limited edition hinged box houses the brochure and features the original Virgin Galactic logo inspired by Phillipe Stark plus some simple detailed metallic foil blocking of the ‘DNA of flight’.

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

Virgin Galactic branding

“We wanted the box to represent space, and the brochure to represent the spaceship, so we have designed a black box with an HD laminated finish to give a tactile rubbery matt feel, revealing the hi-gloss, predominantly white, brochure for an interesting combination of textures and finishes.”
— PAUL WEST, FORM

Credits
Client: Virgin Galactic
Art Direction: Paul West and Paula Benson
Design: Paul West
Design assistance: Joe Wassell Smith/Lucy Purling

Virgin Galactic introduction film, November 2009

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Update: 29 March 2011
This project follows the brand identity guidelines laid down by GBH Design and utilises many images created by GBH for Virgin Galactic. The typeface was also created by GBH, in conjunction with Dalton Maag.

16 appreciated remarks about “Virgin Galactic”

  1. This is well thought out. The non-obtrusive layout works really well for letting the pictures speak for themselves. The packaging is classy in its simple design, and the box in itself presents space flight as a tangible product.

  2. Absolutely gorgeous. The photography and typographical layout is just amazing.
    I was watching a program on NatGeo the other day where they showed the test flights. A real good look at what the structural engineers have had to deal with.

    This is something I’d love to have on my shelf or coffee table.
    Any clue if these can be purchased?

  3. Some really nice layouts throughout. Nice production and finish.

  4. I agree with Kent. The pictures tell the story and the simplicity enhances it. Well done.

  5. Nice layouts, and quite a refreshing contrast of visual language for the Virgin brand – which is nice to see.

  6. Space. The final… revenue generator?
    Can’t wait for the moon to become a National Park.

  7. Nice. However –
    ‘We wanted the box to represent space, and the brochure to represent the spaceship,
    so we have designed a black box’

    That is hilarious

  8. A reality you say? Interesting. Looks pretty rad as well.

  9. The packaging seems to go hand in hand with the brand. It has that futuristic sci-fi feel to it and not just in the typography but in the layout of the brochure itself.

  10. Don’t get me wrong, I like it, but I would have liked to have seen an attempt made to move away from the more established Sci-fi typography seen here. After all this is the first commercial foray into Sci-Fa (Science Fact, for those unable to decipher), space is no longer the unobtainable and alien (not the bit of space near Earth anyway) so maybe a new aesthetic could have been established. Maybe the client wanted it like this, I don’t know, but a pat on the back none the less.

  11. I agree with Rich. It has all been very carefully crafted. However coming at it from an unexpected direction to create a new aesthetic could have been really wonderful.

  12. I’m with Emma and rich. Sure, it’s slick and nicely put together (as far as we can tell from the visuals shown here), and the full-bleed photospreads look …well…nice, but from what I can see here it is pretty safe, predictable stuff, almost to the point of looking clichéd and dated. The design certainly doesn’t match the product in terms of pushing boundaries and exploring new territories, and sounds like they are relying on fancy finishing and production to compensate.
    All in all, given the client and the subject, this feels to me like a missed opportunity to produce something groundbreaking.

  13. I also agree with the above comments, a very nice piece but as put by Simon, a real missed opportunity. Even the fancy finishing isn’t doing anything new or exciting. “Printing in 4 colour process with silver, and gloss sealer throughout, plus a high-gloss laminated cover to represent the spacecraft.” How does high-gloss represent the space craft? it feels like shoe-horning some nice processes in for the sake of it (and assuming because the budget allowed) rather than adding any real depth to the final outcome.

  14. *IMPORTANT*
    This message is for the Directors of Forum. This article incorrectly represnts the Brand Identity creation of Virgin Galactic by GBH Design, London and Philip Starck. The brand Identity implied here was created between 2006-2008 by GBH Design for Virgin Galactic. The typeface was also created by GBH, in conjunction with Dalton Maag.

    This project shown above follows the brand Identity guidelines laid down by GBH and utilises many images created by us for Virgin Galactic.

    Please advise asap that the credits in this articles are revised and that the brand Identity utilised in this project has been correctly credited to GBH, and all published PR of this work is again correctly credited, acknowledging the authorship of the brand by GBH London and Starck.

    We are prepared to instruct our lawyers if this serious misjudgement is not rectified immediately in all published sources relating to this project.

  15. Hello Mark. I’ve added an update to the foot of the post. Let me know if you want it amended.

  16. I’m thinking Syd Mead.

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