A rebranding project at Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds has led to a new playful take on the story of medicine and healthcare.
Thackray Museum of Medicine has one of the UK’s most significant medical collections and in May completed an extensive redevelopment to its 160-year-old building and needed a recognisable brand that would attract visitors.
From the outset the museum worked with the public on the rebranding project and asked what the Thackray meant to them. Informal testing groups were hosted at the museum and very early on they found that to some it meant gore and macabre and to some it meant science and academia.
Playful and adaptive nature
“We were keen to merge those two concepts together to create a brand that embodied who we are but evoke a playful and adaptive nature as a museum that adapts to change while also representing a story that constantly changes, adapts and progresses too,” said Laura Saxon, Communications Lead at Thackray Museum of Medicine.
“As our recent redevelopment of the galleries tells the story of medicine from the viewpoint of the people it directly impacts – working with more than 250 community groups and individuals to tell their story – we needed a brand that represented the whole of our audience and welcomed those yet to visit.
“Our colour palette names went down well on social when we revealed them too so we think we hit the balance between playful and serious.”
The rebrand was completed by O Street, a designer-led studio with offices in Glasgow, London Manchester and Denver, which developed the concept of ‘What’s Inside Us’.
Project Lead, Anna Dunn said: “[This] became the driving force behind the identity, inspired by sparking curiosity around what is inside the museum and what actually makes up a human body.”
The O street designers created a core logo made up of abstract organs, medical tools and bacterial blobs and worked with marketing agency Creative Concern to develop a stand out tone of voice to match.
“The focus on guts and gore was carried through each aspect of the identity, right down to the names of the brand colours,” said Dunn. “The abstract shapes from the logo also informed a more casual illustration style for other brand touchpoints.”
Thackray Museum of Medicine is one of five museums shortlisted for Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2021, with the winner being announced on 20 September.
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About the author – Adrian Murphy
Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.