Branding a Band

Every project with legendary heavy metal band, Metallica, began with critical in-person conversations. As clients and major players in the heavy metal genre, Metallica was highly collaborative, incredibly trusting, and above all were never afraid to let us know their thoughts. If only all brands could speak for themselves…

Our collaboration spanned over a decade and began at an interesting point in the band’s journey. In the late 1990s / early 2000s, Metallica went through a period of musical exploration with mixed results. For its ninth studio album, Death Magnetic, the band wanted to signal a return to their career defining roots.

We started the process by looking at Metallica’s visual history and revived the band’s original logo, which had been drawn by the band’s lead singer, James Hetfield. The re-crafted letterforms modernised the mark yet still held true to the original. Fun fact, the album art features images of several members of our own team who volunteered to model.

“We wanted somebody who commanded respect in branding but were not jaded by the music business. Someone who would bring fresh ideas. Enter Turner Duckworth. Enter happy days.”

— Lars Ulrich

For Through the Never and the accompanying feature film we created a full campaign. We embedded an image of the band’s live show in the character’s iconic wardrobe for the movie’s posters. The visual identity was leveraged by the band’s in-house design team and Picturehouse, the movie distribution company, to create marketing materials to promote the movie globally. A simplified iconic M was used as a stenciled graffiti element, striking through the word ‘never’ to create a visual shorthand for the movie’s title and sparking a dedicated Tumblr site for fan art. 


Lulu was a unique collaboration between Metallica and Lou Reed, so there was a deliberate effort to make this look different from past projects. The music definitely was an inspiration, since Lou Reed had written the original lyrics for a previous musical based on Frank Wiedekind’s Lulu plays from the early 1900s. The main character was broken in many ways, and exhibited behaviour both human and heartless. We found the mannequin at the Museum der Dinge in Berlin. Once we showed her image to the band and Lou, everyone felt we had found our Lulu. Captured by photographer Stan Musilek, she felt appropriate both for the mood and the era of the plays.

For Metallica’s tenth studio album we collaborated with photographers Herring & Herring to create the cover art. Multifaceted portraits of the band members in a state of flux, ready to explode at any moment. A new glitched version of the Metallica logo and adjoining copy built the story of being “hard wired.”