Having recently reopened its venues following a six month closure due to Covid, National Museums Liverpool (NML) is returning with new shows, new perspectives and a fresh approach to its brand, riding a new wave of optimism that will take it into the future.
The new strategic brand work sets out to unite and promote seven museums of National importance and their, internationally recognised collections.
Museum of Liverpool · World Museum · International Slavery Museum · Maritime Museum · Walker Art Gallery · Sudley House · Lady Lever Art Gallery
The new work also sets out a new design system for the groups sub brands including the corporate events business ‘Hosted by’, and the award-winning dementia awareness programme, ‘House of Memories.’
The new branding focuses on the groups revitalised and energetic focus.
Replacing the current L-shaped ribbon logo — a visual wave of energy runs across branded items, and depicts the letters N M L on a colour palette of black, white and rhodamine.
Museums often carry predictable branding that hopes the exhibits alone will excite and provoke visitors. We’ve created a radical new strategic, visual & verbal direction for Liverpool’s world-class attractions. Like their new exhibitions, the brand is now bright, progressive & delivered in a way that is never dull.
Ten brands were brought under one design system. With room for more…
The previous branding gave each venue its own typographically driven look and feel and it’s own colour system (it’s amazing how quickly you run out of useful colours to differentiate) — this individualistic design ethos, while understandably attractive to each venue, had led to many visitors leaving unaware that they had visited one of the nations most important museums — let alone that they were connected.
We simplified the brand architecture, then concentrated efforts to connect the many parts of the portfolio for both the visitor and the staff — without it becoming one dimensional and simplistic.
Aquariums are very different to Wedgwood collections… Each part of the group has very specific collections and very specific key audiences — the work had to enable their various voices to be clearly heard and collections celebrated.
Since the beginning of 2020, NML committed to reviewing the current brand in a collaborative, engaging and robust way, looking at the perception of the brand both internally and externally.
Working with SomeOne, there followed extensive research, workshops, surveys and then the creative process of crafting the ‘look’ and a deep dive into how the brand should make people feel when they engaged with it.
The new written strategy promises the group is ‘never dull’.
The line accompanies the new branding and sets out the organisation to be — despite its historic background — very much focused on progress, in celebrating change and embracing the future in dynamic ways.
Time has moved on and so has our personality, our character and our overall mission.
We wanted to work with a brand practice that would refresh our overall concept in line with our updated strategy and values, and to ensure that our brand going forward would be fully embedded in these values with a strong story behind it to capture our expertise, our identity and our ambition – reflecting our ability and desire to play on the international field.
The team from SomeOne has helped us to do that in spades.
The research exercise conducted by SomeOne analysed how external people interacted with the brand, benchmarking it against competitors in the arts sector and other sectors locally.
It also reviewed what internal colleagues thought, allowing a broad consultative process that sought the views of staff in various roles including Leadership and Board, as well as Visitor Experience and Commercial colleagues.
Workshops and internal feedback, coupled with the external research, led to an overwhelming 99% vote to completely change the brand and further in-depth workshops and surveys helped define what the brand should look and feel like, which included choosing words to reflect where NML is going and what images best represent that.
An entirely new visual and verbal identity was created. The enthusiasm, passion and energy for each of the museums specialist subjects is represented by a continuous energy wave that runs through the branding.
While deceptively simple in appearance — the wave is carefully crafted to depict the ‘n’ and ‘m’ and ‘l’ of the name.
Laura Pye, Director of NML, said: ‘The consultative process was really interesting with descriptive words being identified highlighting the character of the organisation including Curious, Brave, Imaginative, Approachable, Responsible and Essential.
These words all foster a sense of pride and an organisation that is both creative and full of drive and energy, which Someone took very seriously and have reflected perfectly in the new branding.
We’re really excited to start rolling it out across our seven venues and starting the development of a strong relationship with our visitors, stakeholders and colleagues with the brand.’
Curious, Brave, Imaginative, Approachable, Responsible & Essential.
The new brand will be updated across the National Museums Liverpool estate both internally and externally to anything that would support the brand, including building fabric, online platforms, forms, policies, internal platforms, wayfinding, uniforms, marketing materials, venue dressing…
This was a brand built from insights upwards. Collaboration ran through each stage — it was genuinely exciting to see work take shape through interviews, workshops & meetings held in the enormously impressive surroundings of the museums themselves.
This is an extremely comprehensive branding scheme — we’ve looked to consider every part of the digital and physical journey for the visitor. Including a visually connected iconography system.
Launching in June 2021, all changes will be in place by the time the Museum of Liverpool marks the 10th birthday on 19 July, representing a new moment for the organisation, as it looks forward to the next decade of change and exciting developments, with one promise… it will be anything but dull.
Most brands have a narrow focus and are easy to design for. This isn’t the case here. With a portfolio that spans everything from Wedgwood to waterfalls to the walrus, we worked hard to create an approach that both celebrated the subject and elevated the brand.
Huge thanks to the brilliant teams at NML — special thanks go to David, Lisa and Sam.