National Portrait Gallery brand identity

Created by Edit, the National Portrait Gallery’s new branding was revealed following a three-year architectural transformation of the cultural institution

In 2021, the National Portrait Gallery embarked on a £41 million transformation that involved a three-year closure and an ambitious architectural transformation. To mark a new era for the London cultural institution, Edit brand studio was tasked with creating a new brand to help it have more presence, reach and relevance.

Rooted in its new brand strategy by Boardroom Consulting, which included the brand idea ‘a living portrait of Britain’, Edit wanted to celebrate the National Portrait Gallery’s vast collection and nod to its heritage and motifs found within its refurbished building. The studio developed three creative principles to help bring the redeveloped gallery to life, the first of which was to find harmony between contemporary and classic, ensuring the brand could sit seamlessly alongside its Grade I listed home.

The gallery collaborated with typographer Peter Horridge and type foundry Monotype to create a new monogram, logotype, typeface and colour palette, all inspired by historic reference points found within its walls. Most notably, the monogram is based on an original sketch by the gallery’s first ever director, Sir George Scharf, who entwined and encircled ‘NPG’ in a workbook dated 1893.

The second principle is focused on the power of portraiture to connect people. As the home of the world’s largest collection of portraits, this is undoubtedly one of the gallery’s greatest assets. Edit created a framework that puts the collection front and centre, designing a flexible identity system that would preserve the integrity of the artworks while being responsive to the increasing number of channels the brand has to exist in, physically and digitally.

The third and final principle looked at the brand’s broader role, which extends well beyond being a gallery. The new brand also needed to represent a shop, a new café, a fine dining restaurant, a learning centre, family activities and even a night out, requiring a visual identity that could flex while still feeling part of a unified whole.

The results since the gallery’s reopening in June 2023 speak for themselves: it saw a record-breaking 263,000 visitors in the opening month and, to date, visitor numbers have surpassed 750,000. The membership team has also recruited over 2,600 new members in that time, bringing membership numbers to over 12,000.

Ben Lewin, partner at Otherway and a judge for the Annual Awards, explains why the project was picked as a winner:

Category: Brand Identity – Rebrand
Design Studio: Edit
Creative Director: Karen Hughes
Managing Director: Khadija Kapacee
Designers: Adrian Newell, Adele Littler,
Jay Austin, Thom McInally, Liv White,
Samantha Wilkinson, Brendan Kersey
Creative Producer: Sarah Dutton
Video and Motion: Matt Fowler, Glen Funnel
Typography: Peter Horridge, Monotype
Brand Strategy: Boardroom Consulting