To characterise the seven sites run by National Museums Liverpool as caterpillars prior to 2021 would be unfair, but the organisation’s vibrant reappearance after a period of imposed introspection does have the feel of a butterfly proudly breaking free of its chrysalis.
Not only has a fresh raft of programming been unveiled to tempt visitors back to cultural attractions across the city, the museum group’s entire visual identity has been overhauled.
An antidote to the day-to-day mundanity of lockdown, the tried and trusted turquoise of old has been cast aside in favour of a new black, white and rhodamine colour palette. A visual wave of energy will now also appear across all branded items, serving as an aesthetic distillation of the new promise: ‘never dull’.
“Our last brand served us well for more than ten years, with its launch coinciding with the opening of our flagship waterfront venue, the Museum of Liverpool back in 2011,” explains David Watson, the organisation’s executive director of audiences and media.
“The turquoise ‘L’ ribbon has been synonymous with the organisation and the many highlights we’ve experienced over the past decade, but time has moved on and so has our personality, our character and our overall mission.”
The new look was the brainchild of international design studio SomeOne, appointed after a 2020 tendering process with the brief of refreshing all branding elements. This included the corporate events business, Hosted by National Museums Liverpool, and the House of Memories dementia awareness programme.
“We wanted to work with a brand studio that would refresh our overall concept in line with our updated strategy and values,” Watson continues, “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.” SomeOne, he concludes, has helped the museum group “do that in spades”.
Decisions on the new brand identity were by no means solely based on what looked good. Research, workshops and surveys run in collaboration with the design studio preceded the creative process of crafting the visual branding, all to ensure the museum group could fully understand how the imagery would make people feel when they engaged with it.
Analysis was carried out to assess how the public interacted with the brand, benchmarking it against competitors in the arts sector and other industries locally. Employee viewpoints were also factored in, with the consultative process drawing on input from staff working across all areas of the business.
This process yielded an indisputable 99% vote to wholly refresh the brand. As well as finalising how National Museums Liverpool should look in the future, key words associated with the brand were also a prominent consideration in the creative stages of development.
“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,” recalls Laura Pye, director of National Museums Liverpool.
“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.”
This summer will see all traces of former branding replaced by the new wave of bold positivity, with online platforms, wayfinding, staff uniforms, marketing materials and venue dressing all adorned with a refreshed look.
It is hoped that swathes of visitors will be headed to the museum group’s rebranded venues during the remainder of 2021, with celebrations marking Museum of Liverpool’s 10th birthday being followed by a plethora of new exhibitions and events.
The newly-announced Autumn/Winter 2021 programme includes:
- Sickert: A Life in Art – Walker Art Gallery, 18 September 2021 to 27 February 2022
- Sublime Symmetry: De Morgan Ceramics – Lady Lever Art Gallery, 1 October 2021 to 9 January 2022
- Wondrous Place gallery reopens at Museum of Liverpool, 26 November 2021
- House of Suarez’s Vogue Ball – World Museum, 23 October
- House of Memories launches UK’s first mobile museum immersive experience
“Visitors from today will notice things look a little bit different at our museums and galleries as we have unveiled an eye-catching new identity,” Pye notes.
“After a really tough year, with our venues being closed more often than they’ve been open, we are delighted to announce our exciting new programme,” she adds, singling out the reopening of the “much-loved Wondrous Place gallery” as a particular highlight.
With the addition to the collection of a costume worn by Villanelle in Killing Eve and the House of Suarez’s Vogue Ball bringing its Fantasy, Solo, Lip Synch, Sex Siren and Choreography catwalk categories to the World Museum in October, National Museums Liverpool’s programming will, like its vibrant new branding, be in no danger of betraying its new ‘never dull’ mantra.