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Insight Thoughts on arts marketing from Sumo Issue 01—Autumn 2010

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The Branding Issue

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Thoughts on arts marketing from Sumo  Issue 01—Autumn 2010

The Branding Issue Contents

Introduction......................................... 1 Rebranding Wordsworth....................... 2 10 branding mistakes to avoid............... 7 Being brave: flexible identities............... 9

Despite the pressure on funding for the cultural sector, the UK is experiencing a boom in museums and galleries rebranding.    Last month the Science Museum revealed its new identity, while the National Maritime Museum and Horniman Museum have both announced that they will follow suit with new brands rolling out in the next twelve months.    This could be seen as preparation for the Olympics, with each venue positioning itself to benefit as much as possible from the expected rise in tourism, but away from the capital venues large and small are also taking a fresh look at their branding.    These organisations are perhaps conscious that a venue which has a clear idea of what it stands for and why it matters to it’s audiences stands a better chance of attracting both funding and sponsorship in harder times. In this issue of Insight we take a closer look at branding with a behind-the-scenes look at how the Wordsworth Trust has repositioned itself for the future with a new brand.    We also talk about the trend towards flexible brand identities and what it means to a marketing manager and give you a word of warning with ten branding mistakes to avoid.

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T. 01912619894 Sumo F. 01912612010 71 Westgate Road info@sumodesign.co.uk Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SG www.sumodesign.co.uk


WRITER Scott Billings

Rebranding Wordsworth A good brand development process typically means change, or at the very least a questioning of the place and purpose of an organisation. This process inevitably throws up hurdles to overcome, but in doing so, can produce some inspiring results.

This was the case with the Wordsworth Trust, an organisation founded in 1891 as a living memorial to William Wordsworth and his contemporaries in the Romantic cultural movement. Although willing to embrace the branding process, there were nevertheless some in the organisation who questioned its relevance and value. ‘Historically, the Trust had seen marketing as a necessary evil and had probably never really thought about the brand at all: things like Mars chocolate were brands, but not the Wordsworth Trust,’ says Paul Kleian, who joined in 2007 as head of marketing and communications. The Trust’s properties include Dove Cottage in Grasmere, Wordsworth’s home at the height of his creative output, and the award-winning Jerwood Centre. Together they present the Trust’s Museum and Art Gallery and its extensive collection on Wordsworth and Romanticism. Its range of activities reaches academics, tourists and the local community through an ongoing outreach programme. But despite obvious strengths as a long-established and invaluable cultural heritage organisation, the Trust lacked a coherent commercial strategy at a time when guaranteed funding was becoming scarce. To reach more people, more effectively, this needed to be taken seriously, says Kleian. ‘We didn’t have a brand or a clear cut ethos of what the organisation was for. Staff and trustee perceptions all differed and in each case was different from what most visitors thought. But I knew we would have to set aside our own feelings in this because it’s about what our customers think—the scholars, tourists, schools, artists and poets who visit us and work with us. The Trust is actually a very complex organisation that isn’t aiming at any one of these groups but all of them, and that has to come across.’ The Trust agreed to engage a branding and design consultancy and three groups were shortlisted, including Sumo. ‘Two companies were just selling logos, even though they barely knew the organisation, but Sumo stood out in a class of their own,’ says Kleian. ‘I was insistent that we went with designers who would engage as many people as possible within the Trust so that staff had ownership of the process and results. This is what Sumo were proposing.’ While the visible outputs of a branding process are often a new logo and colour palette, this belies the value and depth of the process. ‘Anyone who is thinking

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01 The new Wordsworth Trust logo

02 ‘Discover’ icons

The daffodil and quill symbol played to the strengths of the association of the two main aspects of Wordsworth in the mind of the general public; poetry and his poem, I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.

A series of icons was developed to deliver short, concise messages directly to the audience who will engage with the Trust as a visitor destination. The icons promote various aspects of the offer to help reach a wider audience.

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03 Wordsworth Trust pattern The pattern was designed to be used across all aspects of the Trust’s materials, from paper to wrap items in the gift shop, to endpapers in Trust publications. The pattern could be adapted to fabrics and packaging, potentially opening up other avenues of income for the Trust.

of starting a branding process should be deeply suspicious of any design group which immediately starts selling logos,’ says Kleian. The process is actually a careful examination of who you think you are, what your customers think you are and where you would like to be, as Sumo creative director Sarah Hanley explains: ‘We held workshops that are designed to draw out the vision and values of the organisation and everybody speaks at these. We used image prompts and analogies with other things like celebrities or vehicles to examine the Trust’s attributes. This is a good exercise to get people to think about what they are. It turned out that the perception of the Trust was of a highbrow organisation for older, middle class people. But they wanted to offer a journey and experience that is open to everyone.’ Sumo’s workshop gave staff the opportunity to discuss what the Trust is all about, says Kleian. ‘The designers appeared to have completely open minds and this in turn opened minds in the workshop. It was very well done. It became clear that we all think of the Trust in different ways, but we also started to look at it as if from the outside looking in. It was a clever thing and by the end of it a lot of heads here were nodding.’ After the workshop, Sumo produced a document of findings, but no new visual identity. From these findings Kleian and the designers identified four fundamental ‘pillars’ for the organisation—accessibility, knowledge, creativity and heritage—and distilled these into an expression of the Trust’s purpose, namely: ‘Sharing inspiration from the past for the future’. Once these unifying ideas were in place they could be reflected in graphic designs, including the logo. Informal research showed that the two things people most closely associate with Wordsworth are writing and daffodils, the latter being the inspiration for his celebrated poem I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud. The designs for the Trust’s main visual identity captured these associations with symbolised renderings of a quill and daffodil. Along with the primary logo, Sumo produced a set of design guidelines that are now used by the Trust to create its own printed material, signage, exhibition graphics and so on.

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04/05/06/07/08 Photography style Photography became more intimate, capturing connections between visitors, objects and the surrounding landscape.

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09 Leaflets Examples of 1/3 A4 leaflets. The ‘Discover Wordsworth’ leaflet is aimed directly at potential visitors, the other two examples are promoting its academic resources and giving information on how to donate and support the work of the Trust. 05

‘We went backwards and forwards with these graphic ideas, selecting typography and a colour palette which reflected nature and the local landscape, for example, and also developed different visitor brands under a set of Discover icons,’ says Hanley. ‘It was important that everything is seen as academically authoritative to scholars, but the visitor brands need to attract tourists to the venues too.’ Much more than a new logo, the branding process gave the Wordsworth Trust an opportunity to look carefully at itself, from the outside as well as from within, and to forge a clearer vision of its identity and purpose. This identity is now communicated through bespoke graphic elements that are flexible enough to speak to its wide range of audiences and promote all its venues and activities. But where the design process stops, the new Wordsworth Trust culture is only beginning to emerge. ‘It’s not over internally—it’s an ongoing process,’ says Kleian. ‘I think we’ve done a lot to make everyone think about our customers and people here now ask about the story behind the things we’re doing. Sumo’s consultative attitude really helped our own processes to become more consultative too; it was a really great way to work.’

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WRITER Jim Richardson

branding mistakes to avoid Branding, a commonly used term throughout the business world, essentially means to create an identifiable entity that makes a promise of value. It means that you have created a consciousness, an image, an awareness of your museum. It is your organisations personality. Numerous museums try, but many fail at creating a successful brand. 1 Thinking your brand is just your logo Your brand is not your logo, it is the perception that your audiences have of your organisation and is formed through everything that you do. Your logo is an important part of this, but thinking about the messages that people get from everything you do will give you a better foundation for your new brand.

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2 Creating your brand in a vacuum For the best results, you should involve people from across your organisation in the development of your new brand. Brand workshops are a great way to bring together a diverse group to talk about what makes your organisation special and what it should stand for.

3 Not listening to your audiences Your audiences are a great source of information about how your venue is seen by the public, and getting input from visitors and non-visitors is important to the branding process. What perception do people have of your organisation and how does that compare to the way you’d like to be seen?

4 Not knowing your strengths

6 Losing sight of your competitors

8 Not having a thorough marketing plan

Lots of cultural organisations Your competitors are It’s no good establishing a try and appeal to everybody, anything which audiences great new brand identity and this isn’t always possible choose to attend, support or without a well thought out with limited resources. Think do instead of coming to your marketing plan to support it. about what your strengths venue. There can be a lot to You need to think about how are, and build your brand learn from other industries the brand will reach your around them. and other approaches—in audience, having a focused terms of how they present marketing plan in place will themselves, the language they enable a smoother, targeted use, the communications roll-out of the brand. channels they use and how they use them, how they work 5 with their branding agencies, how they gather feedback Not having from their audiences etc. 9 a good Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and take a creative Ignoring look around the wider market brief Social to see what your venue can learn about how to reach out Media to them. When you're ready to speak to designers about creating a new brand identity, you need to put together a good creative brief which gives them a good overview of your museum and the aims of the rebrand.

What perception do people have of your organisation and how does that compare to the way you’d like to be seen?

7 Not being consistent

Once you have rolled out your new branding, you need to apply it consistently and police how others are using it. A great way to manage this is by having brand guidelines which tell everyone in your organisation how the brand identity should be applied.

Social Media websites like Facebook and Twitter are a new battleground for managing the reputation of your brand. If somebody has a bad experience at your museum, then this is easily shared online. Monitor social media websites for mentions of your venue and learn how to deal with any negative feedback.

10 Refusing to change

Don’t stick with your branding if it isn’t working for you, instead start to think about how it could work better for you and start planning for a rebrand.

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WRITER Jemma Bowman

Being brave: flexible identities 01

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The big advantage of a flexible identity for cultural organisations is that it allows you to align your logo with multiple performances, exhibitions, venues or business streams. The easiest way to do this is to have colour options. For example, The Guardian uses their different coloured logos for distinct sections of the publication Since then, as consumer expectations have changed, brand identity management and the Southbank Centre apply their has advanced. We are used to products and colourways and checked patterns in various permutations. services changing rapidly—even launching in Beta. We want our products available all The Natural History Museum01 have the time, ideally delivered to our door. We been able to give real depth to their logo like personal attention, recommendations by inserting images of living things into and chances to interact with companies and the ‘N’. The identity Sumo designed for impact decisions as a crowd. In business, we Gallery North02 takes its inspiration from don’t wear suits and we use first names and an architectural detail on the building which informal speech. As a result of these, and can then be recoloured, textured or cut many other social and commercial factors, out as relevant. Allowing the logo to be a we are more drawn to ‘dynamic, helpful and ‘container for content’ as Wolff Olins put fun’ than their previous staid counterparts. it, seems to be a growing trend with the As such, the best modern identities have a London 2012 and AOL logos, the logo for palette of materials, not just a logo, and a set the Museum of Arts and Design and the of principles, not specific rules. tourism logos for New York and Melbourne. 9

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On the spectrum from prescriptive to fluid brand management, the identity for TATE03 is slightly more radical, with a series of versions of the logo itself, and as they become more blurred, they are less legible—breaking one of the basic principles of traditional logo management. There don’t seem to be rules governing which version is used, when, and they have various colourways. However, this all fits perfectly with an organisation which is itself groundbreaking and sometimes controversial.


When I first worked on brand guidelines, in the late 1990s, they were full of absolutes: ‘always’, ‘never’, ‘must’ etc. They asserted that the brand marque is to be treated with respect and restraint. And that the parameters of the guidelines document were finite; no other options were permissible. The logic was that precise consistency maximised brand recognition and said ‘reliable, global and professional’ because that was what consumers wanted from their brands.

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What if your brand values are about being maverick? How do you apply the concepts of breaking rules and being free to logo management? For the surfing brand O’Neill04, their identity consists of their name and a wave—applied so loosely that there are almost infinite variations. However, this isn’t completely free reign or mismanagement; they’re not creating a hotchpotch of logos, they’re keeping enough recognisable elements—the reminder levers—that you still know who they are. And meanwhile they are staying true to their pioneering founder and their brand value of the ‘spirit of innovation’ (and giving their clothing designers plenty of scope for branded decoration in the process). A different but also brave approach is that of the Scandinavian ferry company Viking Line, who reduce the brand to just four of the letters when they use it on merchandise, advertising, communications etc. This gives them a way of branding without using their logo. However, perhaps a pattern is a more expressive and evocative tool for this, such as the one Wordsworth Trust (see p2) use in a variety of ways to add branded texture or colour.

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The Google06 logo is the behemoth of this group; they have created countless versions of their logo and continue to ‘play’ with it. They edit, recolour, embellish or animate the logo as they wish, associating themselves Another significant modern shift in with whatever anniversary or quirk they identity control is the acknowledgement choose. They don’t even retain all the letters that logos can be treated playfully and since they are, according to Interbrand, creatively. Stemming from TV idents such in the top 10 most recognisable brands as MTV, BBC2 and E4, other brands in the world. And it’s certainly a popular have followed suit, for example Pixar and approach—they even have fan sites like Talk Talk. Tate and Lyle became Tate and www.logoogle.com. and they are number Smile to highlight their Fair Trade efforts, eight in Saatchi & Saatchi’s Lovemarks list. replacing the logo across their packaging For a brand manager, I think this can be range. Even Warner Brothers, a corporate unnerving territory but, if done well, it can giant, sometimes shows a sense of humour, ‘breathe life’ into the identity, the logo itself such as the chocolate version of their logo then becoming an ‘animate’ touchpoint for shown before Charlie and The Chocolate your brand. Even if you don’t take things Factory. The V&A05 use their logo as part of that far, being willing to flex your identity straplines, giving them an ownable, cognitive and apply a bit of charm and expression can only say positive things about the and stylish approach—literally a ‘brand organisation it belongs to. language’! The Branding Issue

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Sumo is a design company specialising in the arts and cultural sector. We create great design which turns heads, grabs hearts and inspires audiences to attend the arts more often.

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Insight - The Branding Issue