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The SKAO logo

The newly born SKA Observatory (SKAO) now has a new brand. 

The new brand signals a new chapter in the SKA Project’s history, after the SKAO officially came into being as an intergovernmental organisation on 15 January 2021. Following several years of design work, the newly created Observatory will oversee the construction and operation of two telescopes over the next decade. 

A detailed Brand Book outlines the Observatory’s vision, its mission and the values that define its identity and make it unique: diversity and inclusion, excellence, collaboration, creativity and innovation, and sustainability, as well as the logo and visual identity that stem from these.

These guiding principles will lead the delivery of the Project, but also how the Observatory conducts its activities and relationships with its many stakeholders.  

Undertaken as a collaborative process over a five-year period, the brand work was led by SKAO communications professionals consulting more than 400 stakeholders in 40 countries. It is the first time in the Project’s 30-year history such extensive analysis has been undertaken, and represents an essential process as the SKA Project now enters a critical chapter with the start of construction activities in the next few months.

Why has the SKA decided to change its brand?

The SKA Observatory, SKAO for short, is a newly-created organisation. After several years of international negotiations, the SKA Observatory treaty was signed in Rome in 2019. Once ratified, the SKAO officially came into being on 15 January 2021. Several considerations and milestones came together to offer a unique opportunity to update the SKA brand: 

  • The current SKA brand had been in place since 2011, itself building on an original design from 2001.
  • The SKA Project is moving from one phase to another. After a decade of engineering design work, construction of the SKAO’s telescopes is about to start.
  • Two decades of work have seen the SKA Project grow monumentally in scope and go through two revolutions, from a community-driven and scientist-led collaboration of institutes (the SKA) to a company backed by funding agencies (the SKA Organisation) and now to an intergovernmental organisation established and funded by sovereign states (the SKAO).
  • Surveyed stakeholders felt the original “Square Kilometre Array” brand didn’t fully reflect the ambition and scope of the project as it stands today, and extensive user feedback showed the name was seen as overly technical and scientific and deemed confusing by the general public. We are building not one but two arrays, neither of them with a square kilometre of collecting area initially (a legacy of the SKA’s original ambition to map the Cosmic Dawn), and confusingly, most members of the public believed that the square kilometre refers to the land area occupied by the telescope.

The evolution of the SKA logo

What does the new brand include, is it just a logo?

A brand is much more than a logo. It is about how we are perceived by our many stakeholders, which include governments, scientists, engineers, local communities, the media, members of the public, etc. Fundamentally, defining the SKAO brand is about defining our vision for our impact on the world – scientifically, but also from an innovation, socio-economic, sustainability, etc. point of view, defining our mission as an organisation, and our values. It is the first time in the SKA Project’s 30-year history that this work has been done.

If successful, an organisation’s vision, mission and values should permeate its brand, which includes its logo, its choice of colours, patterns, fonts and styles, but also its tone of voice, messages and how these are used, and how it conducts itself in its business relationships. The vision of the SKAO is our ultimate ambition, while our mission will guide us in our delivery in the coming years, and our values will guide us in our relationships with our staff, partners, stakeholders and local communities where we operate.

Preamble to the Convention

The Preamble to the Convention, which every Member State of the SKA Observatory agrees to, highlights some of the fundamental principles behind the SKAO.

Who decided on the new brand?

The development of the SKAO brand has been a collaborative process involving many people over many years. SKAO communications professionals led the work, supported by colleagues from partner organisations, but consultations took place with many stakeholders, including decision-makers, members of the professional astronomy community, engineers working on the project, SKAO staff, science and astronomy communicators and members of the public. Overall, more than 400 people in 40 countries were consulted over a five year process! 

The SKAO also consulted other intergovernmental organisations such as CERN, the European Southern Observatory, the European Space Agency, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, as well as other research organisations including UKRI, the Royal Astronomical Society and the Vera Rubin Observatory, on how they developed their brand.

As such, the SKAO’s brand is the culmination of extensive consultation, and builds on the text of the SKAO Convention, the founding treaty of the Observatory, which every Member State adheres to. The SKAO logo is the result of a creative process overseen by the SKAO Communications Team and supported by the Spanish Brand agency Summa.

How does the brand reflect the SKAO’s values?

Wherever possible, whether it is in our conduct or in our material, we will strive to embody the SKAO’s values of diversity and inclusion, excellence, collaboration, creativity and innovation and sustainability. 

Our vision

Our vision outlines our ambition for our impact on the world in terms of science, but also in terms of innovation, global collaboration, education, sustainability, heritage and equality, diversity and inclusion. 

“The SKAO is one observatory, with two telescopes, on three continents; a 21st century observatory and an inter-governmental organisation with sustainability and respect to all our communities at its heart, driven by a commitment to fundamental science and technology.”

Our Mission Statement

Our mission speaks to our quest for knowledge and technical excellence through innovation and global collaboration, while ensuring a positive impact on the world.

“The SKAO’s mission is to build and operate cutting-edge radio telescopes to transform our understanding of the Universe, and deliver benefits to society through global collaboration and innovation.”

Our Colour palette

Our colours are anchored in our values. Our Science palette is based on real, recent and iconic radio astronomy and multi-wavelength images of the sky, in line with our commitment towards excellence and collaboration. Our Technology palette is based on antennas, motherboards and fibre-optic cables and speaks to creativity and technical innovation, while our Site palette, based on land, community and heritage, speaks to the importance of diversity and inclusion.


Our implementation of the brand

Our limited use of colours on print material and our increasing move away from print towards digital media speaks to our commitment towards environmental sustainability, while our choice of including Libre Office templates is aligned with the increasing move towards Open Source softwares and Open Science in society. 

Our key messages

Our Indigenous Peoples Acknowledgment aims to recognise and acknowledge Indigenous communities with whom we share the land, and treat them with respect and dignity, in line with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Is there a symbolism behind the new logo?

The SKAO logo carries a strong narrative around the themes of exploration, collaboration, excellence and connection with ancient cosmovision, and brings with it several messages of relevance for the Observatory in line with our values. We have produced a short video which conveys those messages, and a summary is included below.

SKAO logo explanation

It was important for our logo to have a clear link to astronomy and radio astronomy and to reflect our global nature but also our connection to the sites from which we will operate, while being simple, modern and inspiring.

Are you updating the SKA website?

The existing SKA website is subject to a separate development process that is currently ongoing. The new SKAO website, due to be launched in Q3-Q4 2021, will fully feature our new brand as well as our latest visuals to provide a seamless experience to users. 

Can I use the SKAO logo?

The SKAO logo and brand is trademarked in all 193 member countries of the World Intellectual Property Organization, WIPO, and its use is generally reserved to the SKAO. If you’d like to use the logo because of an existing relationship with the SKAO or other, please refer to our Brand Book for more information on permitted uses of the brand and how to make a request. Use of the SKAO logo will be granted on a case-by-case basis and will be subject to Terms and Conditions.