As one of the oldest, largest, and most prestigious museums in North America, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) has seen success and growth for many years. While every Canadian knows and has affection for the ROM, our research found that these feelings are often passive and nostalgic: keeping visitors from viewing the ROM as a relevant place worth visiting again and again. The ROM’s 100th anniversary offered a timely and singular opportunity for us to address that misperception head on and position the ROM as a vital, contemporary museum.
From Heritage Centric; to Building Centric and; to Community Centric (our design).
Using the ROM’s extraordinarily wide-ranging collection as our most powerful asset, we developed an identity system that highlights objects from across all curatorial departments. The major graphic reference point for the project became the lens: the design echoes the ROM’s role as an illuminating lens through which visitors continue to make new discoveries and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Before the design work began, a discovery process – including research and communications audits and stakeholder interviews – led to a new understanding of the ROM’s core identity and purpose. Developed from those insights, a new messaging platform positioned the Museum as a dynamic and essential destination that builds community, nurtures discovery, and inspires wonder.
The next step was to translate the positioning work into a graphic identity system that powerfully framed the experience of the encyclopedic Museum. As such, the “lens” was chosen as the anchoring reference point of design. The “R” and “M” systematically flank the central “O”, which serves as a lens through which to explore and discover the smallest to the largest elements of our universe, endless possibilities that are highlighted at the ROM.
The new logotype and related graphic identity were bold and easily legible, but also adaptable to the vast range of audiences that the ROM wanted to target, from sophisticated and cultured adults to families with young children.
In addition, ROM’s uniquely designed website ensured that its online presence fully communicated and extended its role as a facilitator of discovery and illumination.
The ROM divides its collection into eight Centers of Discovery. Modified versions of the main logotype were developed for each Center in such a way to ensure overall brand consistency yet allow each Center to have its own signature look.
A modified version of the logotype was developed for the centennial anniversary in such a way that logotype replacement would not affect the layout in any way.
Through strategic repositioning, a fresh graphic identity, and continued campaign work, the ROM has powerfully solidified its identity as an inviting, vibrant, and lively destination where visitors come to see the world anew time and time again.