Friday, September 17, 2010

Thinking about your museum's "voice"

In my workshops (and my book) I talk about the importance of creating a unique voice for your museum. This voice can be thought of as the person (real or imagined) who is "speaking" throughout your communication.

I wrote a post about Rockfish Restaurants, whose voice conveys the sense of humor of founder Randy DeWitt.

Another great example is the hilarious Q&A page of, a Web site that sells one item per day until it's sold out. The extra benefit is that Woot took something that is usually pretty stale and made it worth reading all the fine print.

Tip of the day: An authentic voice doesn't come from copying another company that's doing it successfully. Instead, look at who you are and what you stand for, and create something that's authentic to you and your brand.

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Sunday's signpost

This is the new wayfinding system at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. The overall sign is facing the correct direction, so that it matches what visitors see. The watercolor-style illustration has a historic feel, which works with the park's overall branding. It's done in an isonometric style, giving the buildings some depth and shadow, which also helps visitors "read" the map. And the you-are-here button is three-dimensional and red. Great job.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Every piece of paper is part of your museum's brand experience

I see this sort of thing at museums all the time... check your flyers today. And your school group information. And your teacher confirmation letters. I guarantee you have at least one of these floating around.

A while back, as I walked into one of my favorite stores, Target, I noticed a young employee who was handing out small flyers to customers who were entering. I assumed it was a promotion. Here’s what I was handed:

Can’t read it? It’s no better in person. It must have been copied off of an original that was on dark red paper, so the copy is nearly illegible. Here’s what it says:

Target Stores
Come join us!
Target in Mission Valley is now seeking fun and friendly people for a variety of positions in our store.

It goes on to list the type of positions and the benefits, and ends with:
Apply in person for your on the spot interview!

Hmmm. I immediately thought of the cool Target TV spots, the only commercials that I actually watch. Surely those savvy corporate designers could come up with a template that could be customized for a particular store and printed up properly? Surely someone must have noticed how poor the quality was on these, and that they might not draw good new employees to the store? Didn't someone notice it was crookedly cut? At any rate, this small slip of paper broke this great brand for me, just a little bit, making me think that this Target was a little bit shoddy compared to others.

Say it isn't so!

Tip of the Day: Every single message, in every media, is part of your brand. Never "whip something up." When you create a graphic identity, have your designer create some flexible templates, on software you can access, so that you are always putting out quality pieces.