The Natural History Museum in London is home to dinosaur skeletons and the largest specimens of blue whales on display anywhere in the world – which are just some of the 80 million objects and artefacts in its collection.
It might be known as a fascinating day out for over five million people each year, but the museum is also an important organisation in the science community, addressing sustainability and the climate crisis.
The museum’s new branding needed to speak to its different sides, whether that’s scientific research or inspiring, entertaining and educating visitors.
The new strategy was developed by Heavenly, which was then interpreted by branding studio Nomad and Marina Willer’s team at design consultancy Pentagram. Together they chose to dial up the advocacy aspect of the organisation, in a bid to create and empower a broad community of climate activists.
The new symbol at the heart of the brand turns the museum’s initials, NHM, into a concentric ‘sunburst’ motif, creating a ripple effect that evokes nature. The icon also resembles a Hoberman sphere – the same same kind of structure used in collapsible, spherical children’s toys – reinforcing the link with science.
The team built a custom tool that allows the Natural History Museum to create contextual permutations of the logo with other letters or images, all while maintaining consistency. The system, called Generator, also has motion capabilities which can be applied to the circular symbol, choosing from four motion patterns inspired by nature: ripple, grow, pulsate, and orbit.
The colour palette is bright and playful, while the new primary typeface, a version of Displaay Type Foundry’s typeface Wallop customised by Patrik Giasson, is designed to feel “accessible and inclusive”.
Elsewhere, creatures and environmental sounds – like lions’ roars and water droplets – have been used in a series of animations and AR filters, which ought to resonate in particular with younger audiences.