The Museum of Ethnography Looks Ahead With a New Logo That Respects the Old

Museum of Ethnography old logo
Museum of Ethnography new logo
Berényi Marianna, Head of The Museum of Ethnography’s Communication Department

Berényi Marianna, Head of The Museum of Ethnography’s Communication Department, shares their inspirations, process, and how they communicated and worked as a team to bring about their new visual identity.

Can you introduce us to Néprajzi Múzeum and the brand’s identity through the years? How were the past brands conceptualized?

In 2022, the Museum of Ethnography has a place worthy of its mission, sizable collection, and role in the heart of Budapest. 

The aim was to design a visual identity that could be adapted to the cultural diversity of ethnography, mirroring the diverse world of motifs of the museum’s Hungarian and international collections of objects.

Elements of the previous logo
Elements of the previous logo

The old logo of the museum was a well-known and loved symbol (designed by Gábor Gerhes) The institute used it for long time from the 2000’s till 2022.

In today’s digital world and the requirements of straightforward visual communication it has reached its borders and the time of the change has come. The new branding tries to respect the values of this old sign but moves forward to something new.

Museum of Ethnography

Museum of Ethnography

Museum of Ethnography logo
Museum of Ethnography logo

About this current rebranding, how did it come about? How did that conversation start?

The rebranding was a very long process. First, five members of the two best design teams in the museum's design competition were selected by the institution, and the new identity was developed in consultation with them, examining all aspects.

Museum of Ethnography building
Museum of Ethnography building

The selected designers responded continuously to the museum's professional concerns and built the identity from the logo to the most complex applications.

How did the rebranding process go? Was it all smooth, or did you encounter challenges?

The challenge and the greatest value of the design process was that we had a big team from the museum side working with the designers.

Museum of Ethnography website
Museum of Ethnography website

Different perspectives and points of view were constantly clashing, which allowed us to rule out solutions that would not have been viable from a content or visual point of view.

A big change was to your logo. Can you tell us how it was conceptualized?

One of our main inspirations was the new monumental building of Ferencz Marcel (NAPUR Architect) in the Városliget, Budapest. 

Logo variations from de_form
Logo variations from de_form

The graphic elements of the logo are a fusion of the four continents into one shape, referring to the diverse collection that spans all continents. This symbol reflects the museum’s previous identity, but the new logo is a single composite symbol instead of three distinct ones. 

An essential aspect of the renewal is ensuring that the visual identity is relevant in the present and future digital environment and can represent the institution on the international stage.

How about your color palette? How did you land on these colors, and what do they say about your brand?

The basic logo of the institution can be used monochrome in black and white, or red for the emblem.

Museum of Ethnography items featuring the new color palette
Museum of Ethnography items featuring the new color palette

A more complex range of colors related to ethnography is available on the various communication platforms to create more dynamic, varied and eye-catching content.

Can you tell us more about the fonts that you use? How were they chosen? Were they custom-made?

The new branding is based on the font Approach, from Emtype Foundry. 

Museum of Ethnography pamphlet from de_form
Museum of Ethnography pamphlet from de_form

The most important aspect was to use a typeface family which has a neutral, timeless character. This choice complements nicely with the striking visual identity of the logo and the identity system.

Can you tell us more about visual elements used in your new brand identity? Such as how you use photos for branding?

Based on the graphic elements of the logo, we use an innovative, easy-to-use visual system. Basic elements can be extracted from the logo to create a set of patterns that can be easily varied.

Museum of Ethnography posters from de_form
Museum of Ethnography posters from de_form

This pattern system is suitable for visually representing the brand on different platforms. Due to its diversity and variability, it can renew itself continuously, but it is still recognizable.

What is your major takeaway from this experience? Or, do you have any advice for brands or designers embarking on rebranding projects themselves?

The biggest lesson from this project is how teamwork, thinking together can take an institution's branding in a direction where the perspective of a designer team, an exhibition planner, a curator or even a museum finance manager can be democratically represented.

The other is that the visual communication of an ethnographic museum does not necessarily need to be boring, but can boldly work in a spirit of diversity and recognisability.

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