Branding: The Museum’s Future

museumA Museum’s brand is a vital part to its future.  Today, when museums exist as multiple personalities—virtual, physical, and then in people’s memories—the brand of a museum acts as a necessary tool for the museum to assert and maintain these diverse personalities.  From the actual look of the logo to the acronym or shortened name—MoMA, The Met, WHITNEY, DIA, etc.—to the location, to the subject matter to the architecture, every aspect of a museum works to establish a brand identity for a museum.  Branding not only to defines and establish identity, but also acts as a mutli-tooled and multi-modal perpetuation of advertisement of that identity.

The development of design firms which design museum identities in entirety—from the exhibition to the logo to the letterhead—reveals how the branding process has changed from a graphic designer creating a logo to a large production team that works to create a full-packaged deal.  Though this format may be appealing—buy everything at once and in one place—I question such a formatting of identity.  When one firm works to develop every detail and feature of a museum, do we risk these places becoming sites of over-design?

And here is another question—how do you brand the Museum of Brands?


4 responses to “Branding: The Museum’s Future

  1. Easy, you move them out of Gloucester and next door to your brand consultancy

    I think they know what they’re doing.

  2. I don’t think it’s a bad idea for one firm to develop a cohesive brand identity for a museum. It’s more a question of good vs. bad design. Like any other tool employed by the museum, it should be in the service of the museum’s mission. A strong identity can be helpful for a museum that presents a huge breadth of features, as many do nowadays. It can almost be a relief to the freneticism of programming. At its best, I think it can also act like a good first impression of a person: you feel like you have a good sense of them, even though you assume that they’re really complex.

  3. Peter, I think you are forgetting what branding really means for a museum.
    “Brand it’s what an organization stands for, it answers the question why? Brand helps museums to assert their roles in the world. It states what the museums stand for”. “Brand is attitude, the museums unique take on the world, its climate, its touchtone, its magnetic world” (Olins, Wolff, Museum Next, Dec 2008).
    Bran is not just a logo in the museum’s stationary or a marketing tool. Brand should also guide the exhibition program tiding together the museum’s external image with its internal reality. “In the future, both museum and brand will be platforms” (Museum Next).
    It’s fundamental to understand the importance of branding as a primary tool for museums to offer their visitors a completely engaging experience that makes of them “not institutions but places of exchange, not cathedrals but bazaars” (Pine, B. Joseph and Gilmore, James H., The experience Economy).
    Branding helps Museums to better understand and pursue their mission.

  4. I agree with Jenny, as long as the branding and identity of the museum connects to the museum’s mission it is fine. I know that for AMHN the brand that is associated with the museum draws huge crowds over many of the contains. People go to the AMHN because it has an identity associated with it, as Tim was saying every country has an Natural History Museum so why go to one outside your own, yet one- third of the visitors are from other countries.

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