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The Art of Rebranding

Averi Melcher
January 29, 2016

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A successful rebranding campaign is about more than a well-thought out logo change – just ask Jennifer Francis, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

For more than a year, Francis and her team have been hard at work, defining the brand’s “big idea” goals and marketing objectives, as well as the museum’s longterm vision. The result? A complete external rebrand of the museum’s marketing, digital presence and physical appearance, as well as an internal change management program.

According to an article in the Philadelphia Business Journal, “The museum’s former identity ‘did not necessarily serve all of the things the Art Museum wanted to be in the 21st century,’ said Francis.” She was tasked with creating a more modern marketing approach that would actively engage audiences online and onsite, drawing them through the front door for more than just special exhibits.

That meant the end of the former griffin mascot logo and the beginning of a new era for the historical landmark, whose legacy began at the Centennial Exhibit of 1876. The museum is now home to the fourth largest public art collection in the country.

No detail was overlooked, as Francis transformed the museum’s brand into one of a modern creative organization. For starters, when you first visit the refreshed website you can see how the ‘Art’ in Philadelphia Museum of Art interactively changes into different objects inspired by works of art.

“[This is] to reflect the breadth of the collection – which is at the center of everything we do,” said Francis.

Printed collateral, including exhibition and visitor guides, maintain a minimalist aesthetic, tastefully balancing white space with artwork that sets the tone for the museum in the 21st century.

The culmination of Francis’ rebranding efforts was at last year’s reveal, timed in conjunction with an exhibition that showcased the comprehensive design for the museum’s 170,000 square foot expansion and renovation by world-renowned architect, Frank Gehry. Orchestrating this mammoth task was no small feat, but it is one that Francis believes will have a longstanding impact on the museum’s future.

And it is a successful effort that is already garnering international attention for its innovative approach to connecting with new audiences. At The 2015 International Design and Communications Awards in Istanbul, Francis and the Philadelphia Museum of Art won ‘Best Branding Campaign,’ a title competed for by organizations all around the globe.

“When you make such a big change, and then you win on an international stage, all of a sudden it consolidates [the initiative] and people are like: ‘the world has seen us…we are [now] on our way,’” said Francis.

Photo provided by Philadelphia Museum of Art:
“Series of ‘A’s. Designed by Pentagram. Copyright © Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

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