RISD Museum Rebrand

Deliverables: identity manual


Since its establishment, RISD Museum has undergone several identity revisions. However, I felt that its current identity still lacked awareness and consistency. The logo, only visible on a handful of posters outside the museum and a few pages on the website, wasn’t standardized across the museum’s materials. Many are even unaware that a logo exists. As part of my graphic design studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, I completed a rebranding for RISD Museum with the intention of exploring the field of branding while further familiarizing myself with Adobe design softwares.


Create a new identity system of RISD Museum that can:
1.Be applied to a wide range of materials to make it immediately recognizable
2. Establish a place in memories
3. Reflect the museum's brand
To achieve this goal, I divided my design process into six steps-follow along below!

Purpose: understand the client needs to develop an appropriate visual language.
To construct a well-defined identity, I first need to understand RISD Museum as a whole. I presented myself with the following guidelines to carry out my research of the museum, and created a moodboard to present all my findings. Sources I used (apart from Google of course) ranged from the museum’s official site, interviews with museum staff & RISD faculties, online reviews, to personal visits (multiple times, shoutout to free student admissions!).I also examined current identity to find out what I like & want to change.

Purpose: identify elements/images to use in the development of the identity .
After the initial research, I performed a visual distillation with the goal of generating keywords that I want to focus on during my design.I generated 5 final keywords, then organized my data, in the form of images or texts, according to their relevance to these keywords. I used a wordcloud to visualize the most occurring words in the museum’s mission & values, which I can use in my logo design as guidelines. I also noticed recurring elements of juxtaposition in multiple categories of my initial research, from how the museum displays both student’s hand-drawn work and ancient Greek sculptures to how the museum’s modern exterior stands out from its neighboring New England buildings.

Purpose: develop a logo that communicates the essence of RISD museum to the public.
This is where my keywords come into play! Using them as guidelines, I looked into how I can extract the potential of visuals in their respective categories to eventually develop a graphic symbol, by working them into type, integrate textures, apply colors & image…the list goes on. I performed 3 rounds of iterations, each time creating 5-10 variations of the logo. At the end of each iteration, I asked 5 different individuals for feedback whose backgrounds ranged from professors, museum employees, to international students.

I chose the final logo due to its visual balance as well as meaning. It is an amalgamation of RISD Museum’s values and characteristics. The handwritten R with the typed RISD and MUSEUM texts, as well as mixing of various color swatches, is a reflection of juxtaposition throughout the museum- whether in its old vs new architecture, or traditional vs modern exhibits. Inspired by the diverse textures of the letterprint machine, brush strokes of various textures and opacities are combined in the R to showcase diversity.

Purpose: create a visual guideline for consistency
In adherence to the free-spirited and creative nature of the museum & to highlight the museum's affiliation with RISD, I decided to not impose a strict color limit to the logo. Rather, it simply has to follow the official RISD guidelines of using any “strong, bold, and rich colors,”especially colors with “distinc material qualities” or “vibrant pantone colors not easily produced in 4-color process printing”. For my main logo, I specifically chose a set of colors to represent the museum's rich, diverse, and vibrant art culture. However, I also created a wide range of variations following this diverse color palette. In terms of typography, I chose Franklin Gothic due to its desirable qualities as headers- bold while being clean and legible display.

Purpose: highlight the museum’s unique identity across a broad range of platforms
Using my newly-created logo, I developed a series of products to showcase and standardize the museum's identity. I experiemented with multiple variations of my logo through both print and digital forms.

Purpose: gather ideas for future improvements
After presenting the final identity manual to a wide range of audiences, I received invaluable suggestions regarding this project's future directions. The logo was very well-received, with many indicating that it gave them a feeling of "celebrating art" and "diversity", both of which serve as the museum' core values.. My use of unrestricted colors also received positive feedbacks, with a student stating how it "allows the museum to unleash its creativity". Some improvements I can make include creating more merchandise since the audiences wished to see more applications of this logo. Since I only made one home page for the website, many also suggested that I make more frames, and also a mobile version, to explore more possibilities within the digital realm.