Several months ago, Linda Butler (Director of Marketing, Communications, and Visitor Experience at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco) and Jennifer Sonderby (Sonderby Design) were entrusted by former Director and CEO of the Museums Max Hollein with the responsibility of refreshing the institution’s brand identity. Having recently worked together on a rebranding assignment at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, they understood both the importance of this task and its potential. To work successfully, the approach required close collaboration with internal teams.
Defining a brand is not only important for external purposes but also has impact across every area within an organization. So it was essential to engage all departments and to partner with a design expert whose philosophy aligned with this inclusive and collaborative approach.
For an institution to deliver on its promise to serve the public with maximum impact, it is critical that its identity is clear and distinct. A strong brand allows us to rise above the surrounding noise, communicate clearly the values of the institution and the diversity of our offerings, and powerfully articulate our purpose.
At the start of this process, Butler and Sonderby understood that although recognition of the de Young and Legion of Honor individually is high, very few current and potential visitors understand that the two museums are connected under a joint operating agreement as the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. They identified an opportunity to better communicate this association, as well as the combined breadth of our collections and programs, to our audiences. Our strategy was to capitalize on the strengths of our current brand as we embarked upon a three-part “refresh” project that included development of a messaging platform, refinements to the visual identity, and improvements to the wayfinding signage.