TOTEM is a boutique studio specializing in music and sound design for movies and television.
Music supervisor Patrick Buchanan and composer David James Rosen approached us to design a visual brand for their newly founded studio, TOTEM. They needed a brand that could convey a sense of drama while being flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of musical stylings. The finished work revolved around a logo inspired by both sound and motion, as well as a modular system for their many and frequent music releases.
In just two short years TOTEM’s work has been used in films and shows such as STAR WARS, Terminator: Dark Fate, Avengers: End Game, WestWorld III, Downtown Abbey, Our Planet, True Detective Season 3, and many more.
We developed an icon for TOTEM inspired by both sound and motion. The icon is an abstraction of an upside-down metronome. The movement of the metronome’s pendulum is represented with evenly spaced diagonals, that can also be seen as a ray of light from a movie projector. The upside down triangle creates visual tension, but also is meant to convey “movie magic”. An upside down pyramid is an impossible structure only capable of existing in our imagination or for fleeting moments in movement (a spinning top for example).
The TOTEM wordmark is customized to fit the widescreen 16:9 ratio with generously spaced letters meant to be reminiscent of figures on a horizon; a classic movie device.
We developed a system of album covers for TOTEM’s promotional releases. The sound design releases feature artwork more graphic and simple to reflect the utilitarian nature of sound effects, while the soundtrack releases feature cinematic imagery fit to the mood of the music within. Both systems are meant to be fairly easy to create new covers as TOTEM releases these collections rather frequently.