One of the things I love most about being a designer is seeing work I produce out in the real world. That’s why I was delighted to be invited to the opening of the Fox Brothers’ exhibition at Coldharbour Mill Museum: Not just to see the exhibition, but to have a look around the site and see how they were using the museum brand I created for them last year.
The Coldharbour Mill Museum brand was a fun project to work on. It arose when Coldharbour Mill was looking to make a move from being a passion-project for a team of volunteers to a professional venture. By adopting a professional looking museum brand they could position themselves as a genuine tourist attraction, vying for the attention of the thousands of holidaymakers who descend on Devon in the summer.
Seeing the brand in the flesh
The new museum brand is visible as soon as you arrive at the site. The logo adorns the buildings facing you as you approach, flanks the entrance to the car park, and dominates a large sign welcoming you to the museum.
When you cross the bridge from the car park you are directed to the visitor’s centre; which also has a large branded sign on the wall. A blue plaque to the right of the door informs you that the building has been dedicated to the memory of a former volunteer, Peter Spencer. The museum logo has been carved into this plaque, and it looks beautiful.
As you continue around Coldharbour, the museum brand is visible all around you. Simple signs have been mounted above the doors to each building, and there are signposts directing you around the site.
Designed for the environment
When I worked on the museum’s brand, one of the first things we stipulated was the primary colour of the brand. The exterior woodwork of nearly every building on-site is painted drum red—the same colour used when Coldharbour was still a working mill. I sampled and matched this colour for the primary burgundy tone of the brand. This decision was perfect, the modern branded signage blends in with the rest of the environment to direct and inform visitors without jumping out at them.
Why the Coldharbour Mill Museum brand works so well
My ethos when working with clients is to treat them as collaborators and partners. I try to get the best understanding of their business I can so that the brand we create is as relevant as possible.
In the case of Coldharbour, the vast majority of staff are volunteers. They have limited time, opportunity or knowledge to produce the branded materials required. The museum’s limited budget prevents hiring a designer to specifically work on these items either.
Taking these circumstances into account I made the Coldharbour Mill Museum brand as simple as I could:
- An easily recognisable logo.
- A palette of a few colours; primarily drum red.
- One readily available typeface: Gill Sans.
These elements combined create a simple but distinctive brand that Coldharbour use to full effect.
Do you need a museum brand?
If you have a small business or museum branding project you would like to talk to me about why not send me a message?