Yorgo Tloupas is quietly simply one of France’s best creative directors. He and his studio – in our Paris HQ – are responsible for the brand identity of our company. We’ve already had the opportunity to lay out the impressive trajectory of this warm, generous soul in one of our previous editions, we’ve asked him to explain thought processes behind our logo, a cornerstone of our identity. Over to you, Yorgo!
‘The Midnight Trains logo is simple and evocative, as a matter of principle and by necessity. Four lines converge to form an M for midnight, combined with a typography created exclusively for the brand, with its G resembling a train station clock and simple, stable, timeless lettering. Fitting in with our goal of reinventing the night train, our logo is neither nostalgic nor tied to any passing trends.
However, it makes a number of knowing references, hinting at both train tracks disappearing symbolically into the distance and vehicle lights emerging in the darkness, while also drawing on the depictions of speed by futurist painters (notably Luigi Russolo’s Automobile in Corsa, 1912/1913) and today’s manga artists.
Like any decent logo, it follows both aesthetic rules and those necessary to ensure commercial and industrial success: it will work in monochrome, so can be engraved on glass (which isn’t possible for the SNCF logo, by the way). It also has depth, without using any shading or shadow effects, instead simply making use of optical perspective – something the Engie logo fails to do, for example.
It’s geometrical and clear, without any design tricks or irregularities, which means it can be used on all media (which can’t be said for the Amazon logo, notably). It can be reduced to a tiny size, both for physical uses like on a pin badge and digital ones like as an avatar on social media (slightly less viable for the new Peugeot logo).
It could work just as well as a giant emblem that could stand on a station platform as a stamp on an invitation (which wouldn’t work for the TotalEnergies logo, for instance). And it could also be animated in several different ways – something indispensable in the digital age. The rails can become dynamic without looking silly (an insurmountable obstacle for the Ferrari logo, certainly).
And, of course, it carries lots of symbolic value for the business: it signifies speed, nighttime, rails (this was clearly lost on UPS in 2003, when it redesigned the original logo by Paul Rand, losing the marks that represented a package of deliveries, replacing them with an anonymous swoosh that didn’t make much sense).
It’s a logo that Midnight will stick with in the long term, across long distances, and in all languages, like a graphic esperanto that can be understood by anyone and everyone.’