Tuesday, February 9, 2010

New Branding for Atwater Kent Museum

Apparently the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia is reworking its brand and identity as it renovates its building.

Originally named for the radio manufacturer Atwater Kent, the museum plans to relaunch as the Philadelphia History Museum in 2011.

You can see the new web splash page here, and read about the new logo here. You can read the designers' thoughts on the branding process here.

This is tricky stuff, rebranding.

In my former life in communications, I spent a lot of time focused on brands and identity. How does a design stylebook reinforce or contradict core values? Will the public pick up on what you're trying to communicate with color, font, image and language choices?

In this case, I think the new name is definitely a winner. It's clear and mission-focused, in a way that the Atwater Kent name never was. (You can read more about how the museum came to be named after Kent here.)

I'm excited by the designers' plans for a story-based brand, and the teaser poster about William Penn's beer-making looks interesting.

But I'm on the fence about the logo itself, or more specifically, splitting up the word "history" on two lines. The new logo has passing similarities to the logo for DesignPhiladelphia (at least to this non-designer), but that logo keeps its central concept -- design -- on one line.

The new URL, philadelphiahistory.org, also makes a lot of sense, but the museum will be competing with the oh-so-similar phillyhistory.org, which is run by the Philadelphia City Archive. Then again, both are focused on the city's history, so perhaps it doesn't matter too much that they have similar URLs.

More importantly: what will the public think?

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