The last 20 years have seen a period of exciting expansion for the V&A. With the opening of Young V&A this year and V&A East coming in 2025, it will soon be operating six venues in the UK, while its websites attracted nearly 16 million visits last year from a growing, global audience.
But this expansion throws up challenges. A brand that was once defined by a single, historic venue in London’s South Kensington is now coming to terms with life as a family of museums: how those museums relate to each other and to the South Kensington ‘mothership’, as well as to the overall V&A brand, is a significant design and branding challenge.
As befits an institution with its history and reputation, the V&A has been blessed with one of the greatest pieces of graphic design ever produced – its logo. Designed in 1989 by Alan Fletcher, and drawn by Quentin Newark, the logo is beautiful, ingenious and iconic.
But it was made to work for just that one world-famous venue, in a time before digital media. Since Fletcher’s logo was designed, the concept of ‘visual identity’ has grown way beyond the confines of the logo itself. And the places in which a visual identity lives and does its work have expanded similarly.