This morning’s big announcement coincides with the official re-opening of the National Portrait Gallery last June – the historic space has undergone extensive refurbishment as part of the Inspiring People project. The new identity includes a new monogram, logo, typeface and color palette, all inspired by historical reference points within the building and the Gallery’s extensive portrait collection.
Why the reform? Before it closed in March 2020, audience research showed that while the National Portrait Gallery had great loyalty and warmth with high levels of visitor satisfaction, it could do more to bring its collection to life for more people. Therefore, the new designs were developed after a comprehensive review of the existing brand to build a stronger and more focused identity.
As part of the process, the Gallery reached out to its stakeholders, members, staff and visitors, and those who have not yet survived to find out what a new and improved National Portrait Gallery would need. “The obvious solution was to find a balance between past and present, a flexible brand that could sit seamlessly alongside the stunning grade I listed building and historic works, as well as the contemporary collection and dynamic events and an exhibition program,” he explains.
With this in mind, the initials ‘NPG’ inspired one of the main focal points of the brand refresh, which can be seen throughout the Gallery building, within the railing metalwork, embossed on furniture and as part of original mosaics. Such motifs can also be seen in archival materials, including an original sketch by the Gallery’s first director, Sir George Scharf, who weaved and circled ‘NPG’ in a workbook dated 1893. This particular sketch has been altered from is a new symbol for the Gallery by illustrator and typographer Peter Horridge, best known for his logos and crests created for some of Britain’s most iconic institutions, including the Royal Household and King Charles, Admiralty Arch , Liverpool Football Club and badges for the Liberty department store.
The brand also features a custom logo hand-drawn by Horridge and a new contemporary typeface, NPG Serif, created by a Monotype foundry type rooted in historical type references found in and around the space. These features are given a fresh modern palette, inspired by paint and materials in the building and archive and in its portrait collection.
Speaking about their involvement, Edit’s Adrian Newell said: “When we started working with the National Portrait Gallery, we quickly realized the need to create a brand for much more than a Gallery. We were creating a brand for a shop , a new brand).cafe, fine dining, learning centre, family activities and even a night out.Putting the large, amazing and diverse collection front and centre, we have created a brand that can flex and mean many different things for many people, and still feeling part of a strong, distinct, unified whole.”
The new identity has been implemented on the Gallery’s website and digital channels with more planned for 2023. “The new brand expresses our ambition to be a place for everyone, full of life and full of life stories,” says the Gallery, “We’re excited to share more in the coming months.”