Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Bringing to life the idea of the Natural History Museum as a catalyst for change in a unique and ownable brand language. Unlocking the power of nature to inspire and create advocates for the planet.

The visual identity had to feel engaging and accessible to a wide range of audiences, being flexible across user touch-points, communications and within the physical environment. Bringing together multiple departments and locations into a monolithic brand architecture.

Studio
Created as part of Team Willer at Pentagram in collaboration with Nomad

Deliverables
Brand Architecture
Visual Identity
Generative Tool
Guidelines and Toolkits
Motion Principles
Design System
Guardianship

Context

The UK’s most-visited indoor attraction, London’s Natural History Museum houses over 80 million items across a wide range of natural history disciplines. Every year it offers millions of visitors the chance to uncover the history of life on Earth, from the smallest insects to the largest mammals. It houses specimens collected by Charles Darwin, a huge collection of dinosaur skeletons and one of the largest specimens of blue whales ever displayed. As well as its extensive collections, it produces hugely popular touring exhibitions and is recognised globally as the pre-eminent centre of research into natural history and its related fields.

Challenge

To create an identity that activates engagement with both existing and new audiences, from research to entertainment, education and activism.

While the collections are an invaluable scientific resource, the Museum wanted to reassert its position as a leading scientific voice in the discussions on the future of our planet and climate emergency. That their experiences are more than ‘a passive catalogue’; that they can be inspiring catalysts that urge and enable their audiences to act for nature.

“With a bolder and more contemporary voice the new brand positioning can better engage both existing and new audiences and help us highlight how the Museum is finding solutions to the urgent issues that face our planet.”

Richard Orr, Head of Marketing

Outcome

Creating a mindset shift from an institution perceived as a passive catalogue to an active catalyst in creating advocates for the planet. More than a museum, more than history, a pioneer in science and advocacy.

The Natural History Museum needed a symbol that made reference to our planet and the universal connection between everything in nature. The symbol features a circular formation of NHM, representing the energy of a ripple effect, which pulsates from the centre to form a three-colour sunburst. It’s a shape born from nature — embodying the collective energy and positivity that reflects the Museum’s mission to become an agent for change.

The brand architecture was evolved into a monolithic model — working harder for all of the museum sites, including South Kensington, Tring and Harwell but also other initiatives and sub-brands. Using letterforms within the symbol not only works as an identifiable visual form, but also as a shorthand for the brand name which was fundamental for creating an effective brand logic.

The brand palette has a broad and energetic combination of colours, to reflect the diversity in nature and life.

Supporting graphic assets have a strong connection to the symbol, they can be static or moving and visually represent the form of a catalyst. They can move, grow, expand, change form and communicate, creating an instantly recognisable element that brings colour and energy. For easy creation of these graphic assets a generator was created, a digital tool that can be used to design both static and motion outputs through coding, making it easy for all designers working with the brand to keep consistency as well as flexibility.

The new typeface NHM Wallop (a custom version of Displaay Type Foundry’s Wallop) is friendly, straightforward and confident to reflect a brand that is accessible and inclusive.

Motion features strongly throughout the identity, taking inspiration from nature and bringing the Museum’s brand to life, and when applied to the new logo, the movement helps it become instantly recognisable. Full of energy, dynamism and momentum, the motion channels four nature-inspired routes: Ripple, Grow, Pulsate and Orbit. A series of sound-reactive animations also add a joyful and expressive element and celebrate the creatures that everyone loves.

The Natural History Museum is at an unprecedented point in its 150-year history. While it has always been a committed champion of the natural world, its aim is to now look deeper into the planet’s past and present to help shape a new future. The new identity will help it in its mission to do more and go further, fighting the climate emergency and turning audiences into advocates for the planet.

“With dynamism and motion at its heart, our new brand reflects the catalytic power of our collections, world-leading scientific expertise and enormous audience reach.”

Lucy Clark, Head of Public Space Programme

Studio:
Pentagram
Nomad
Pentagram Partner:
Marina Willer
Nomad Partner:
Stuart Watson
Associate Partners:
Stuart Gough
Hamlet Auyeung
Motion:
Tom Gould
Nathan Monaghan
Design:
Cleber de Campos
Natalia Witwicka
Marion Bisserier
William Alexander
Ash Watkins
Marta Gaspar
Rita Desport
Creative coding:
Mat Hil
Typography:
Patrick Giasson
Displaay
Copywriting:
John Grant
Strategy:
Heavenly
Project Management:
Kate Blewett
Charlotte Harmsworth

Password protected

Close

Password protected

Close

Password protected

Close

Password protected

Close