CR Blog

New direction for National Railway Museum

Graphic Design

Posted by Patrick Burgoyne, 21 July 2011, 13:14    Permalink    Comments (32)

Leeds-based Thompson Brand Partners has created a new identity for the UK's National Rail Museum, the largest rail museum in the world.

According to Thompson, "The new logo has been designed to reflect the direction the museum is moving in. It is modern, simple, easy to read and dynamic with a clear indication of speed and momentum. It is based on the many angled slashes that can be found in the iconography and architecture of railway throughout history. It also makes subtle reference to rails."

As well as the logo itself, new typefaces, colours and imagery will be applied across all uniforms, signage and so on at the main museum in York and its Shildon site in the coming months.

 

 

The museum's previous logo recalled the bygone days of steam and great British railway companies with its three-dimensional lettering. While the new look lacks the charm of its predecessor (and may not look so great on merchandise), it's clean and simple and unlikely to date rapidly. It will probably invite criticism for being too obvious or "easy" a solution but, as opposed to some of the other museum identities we have seen in recent times, it is not trying too hard or making a conceptual promise that its execuition can't deliver. It's a museum about rail, past and future and the new mark does a fine job of conveying just that.

We haven't seen anything beyond the basic mark yet, so it's unfair to judge what the overall success of this identity might be. However, it may need some bold and imaginative applications to avoid seeming overly bland and corporate.

 

 

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32 Comments

As a York resident, this is a rebrand that I'd be happy to have to look at as I pass the museum on the bus. It's slick, contemporary and not overbearing. I hope this paves way for more opportunities to explore good graphic design within non-design environments, such as this.
Grace Neal
2011-07-21 13:56:13


"It will probably invite criticism for being too obvious or "easy" a solution..."

Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest. I like this a lot.
Req
2011-07-21 13:56:46


It is simple but it's clean, modern and works really well on the photography. Nice job. It probably will get hammered for being too simple but for me it works.
John Robinson
2011-07-21 14:15:02


Loke most things, wtf was wrong with the old one?
Kev Potts
2011-07-21 15:38:08


Don't mind the logo, but a little effort on the website typography would go a long way. Why not use typekit or the like to get a nice font other than Trebuchet?
Simon
2011-07-21 15:52:07


Back to reality: What's more important to you - having the world's best looking railway museum? Or a better railway?
Dean
2011-07-21 17:12:45


It is a simple and effective Identity... but you go and hire a good design studio to take risks with rebranding and all they do is go for the most obvious par safest 'railway two line' solution that has been redone in the past for another brand in such a similar way. All you get in response is... "The new logo has been designed to reflect the direction the museum is moving in..." You don't make history if you do not add an individual mark.

...Nevertheless they won the pitch, strong work behind it, so hats off to the team!
K
2011-07-21 17:23:47


"Modern, dynamic, simple, easy to read"
Straight from the book of corporate blanding. You can literally say that for any logo these days.

Think how excited kids and parents get in these places, and now look at it. It looks like a dull commuter train company.
Thomas
2011-07-21 17:29:32


It is a simple and effective Identity... but you go and hire a good design studio to take risks with rebranding and all they do is go for the most obvious par safest 'railway two line' solution that has been redone in the past for another brand in such a similar way. All you get in response is... "The new logo has been designed to reflect the direction the museum is moving in..." You don't make history if you do not add an individual mark.

...Nevertheless they won the pitch, strong work behind it, so hats off to the team!
K
2011-07-21 17:31:36


I enjoy this, it is nice to examine and in my opinion, quite representative of the museums collection. It will be interesting to see how they envisage this working across other media & environments, besides the obvious.
Matt
2011-07-21 17:59:34


Utterly bland. Pointless logofication that adds nothing to the museum.

Other museums are doing interesting progressive brand work where as this is a wheezing attempt at providing 'the answer is a new logo, what's the problem?'

A terrible missed opportunity. One dimensional tosh.

Good luck to the merchandise people slapping that on everything and hoping it sells.
Gerry
2011-07-21 18:32:11


It's a railway museum in York, not a museum of modern art in Tribeca or a boutique cupcake bar in Melbourne. Not every logo has to be groundbreaking.

It's a solid piece of work that didn't scare the crap out of the museum's board of trustees and won't alienate the old guard or the youngsters. We should stop being so quick to judge work until we've seen the brief - it's naive to think this is the solution that the agency would have come up with if they'd be given carte blanche to do what they like.
Paul
2011-07-22 11:31:46


@Gerry, to quote the article "We haven't seen anything beyond the basic mark yet", yet you're criticising the work for being one dimensional and 'just' a logo. how about waiting to see how the brand develops a bit before judging it so harshly?
ben
2011-07-22 14:15:16


Sometimes the simplest graphic design is the most effective, lots of potential for creative use.
Logomotif
2011-07-22 15:07:36


It is one inane misuse of helvetica away from making me furious. what an insanely boring identity.

Please note that the logo is not featured black on white, only shown in two colours against a distracting photographic background. Had there only been a black on white I feel the response would be worse.

and yet...the science museums try hard mess is too far the other way, I feel there is a lovely midpoint people are still ignoring.
alex
2011-07-24 15:51:57


It conforms well with the times, however runs the risk of
being dated in the next few years.
James Wallace
2011-07-25 14:40:36


Surely the idea of any logo,package,cover is to reflect whats inside, something the previous logo did very well. The new one could be for anything - the traffic wardens society? I'm with Gerry - utterly bland
Frank
2011-07-25 14:53:48


Why does a Museum that celebrates the romantic ideals that rail travel used to conjure need to be dynamic and modern?

No offense intended regarding the new logo but it's just not a very emotional. It 'conforms' but who wants to do that!!

The NRM is awesome and even after years of visiting it I still love it. The previous logo was spot on, this one could be used on anything.
Fizzbomb
2011-07-25 15:17:43


I really like it, but a new identity does not have to mean a new logo. I love the use of modern photography and new colours, but I think it would have looked just as good to reverse out the previous logo from the imagery.

There's too many logo revolutions instead of evolutions, and it makes me sad to think of all those rainbow erasers that will go to waste.
Ed Wright
2011-07-25 16:07:13


Deutsche Bank x 2
andrepj
2011-07-25 18:17:15


Another case of logocide in a soulless age. It had character. Now it doesn't. Good job.
Evan
2011-07-25 21:44:10


For those of you old enough to remember the late 80s Science Museum logo (Sci-M), I designed this along with the 1992 National Railway Museum identity, during my time at Peter Leonard Associates. The 1992 logo coincided with a refurbishment of the museum, when it was felt that the museum's identity (NRM three-dimensional lettering) dwelt too much in the 19th century. Needless to say my brief was to imply the past, treated in a modern way. The resultant logo was a typographic play on a viaduct – a Gill Sans 'National Railway Museum' over a Bodoni 'nrm'. This was enjoyed by the public for a few years before the three-dimensional lettering version was shunted out again. So in terms of identity, moving the NRM into the 21st century has never had universal backing from its administration – and it shows. The NRM combines education and fun in a unique and enviable way. The logo which just been launched has as much charisma as a booking office. Simple and clean – does this really evoke the smell of this world famous institution? It's time someone blew the whistle on this type of cop out design.



Andrew Barrass
Andrew Barrass
2011-07-26 10:30:00


Style over substance????
JD
2011-07-26 11:36:11


Style over substance????
JD
2011-07-26 11:59:06


won't ever become what it is - out-dated – Warnes
Warnes
2011-07-26 17:21:15


Wow - haven't seen a logo like that before. Come on - is that the best you can do with such a fantastic subject.
Peter
2011-07-30 20:12:22


Methinks a touch of the "Emporer's New Clothes" about this one. I cannot get excited about it.
Mike
2011-08-07 20:57:45


missed opportunity, you guys can do better!
pp
2011-08-15 16:14:55


It's okay. But I do get tired of new Heads of Marketing trying to 'make their mark'. The old logo represented the golden age and charm of rail travel - the new one is a bit too reminiscent of a British Rail sandwich.
Will Trafford
2011-08-17 09:58:49


Logo looks ok,
Website looks horrible :)
Benjamin Parisot
2011-09-22 10:52:15


Christ, what an utter train-wreck of a redesign.

Character, individuality and relevant typography have been cancelled. All aboard the mundane express.

I would have been interested in visiting based on the old logo. Now I'm not.
Dan
2011-10-06 13:57:45


Old and new logo designs are featured on this bundl http://bundlr.com/b/national-railway-museum
Henri
2012-04-24 16:17:53


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