How O Street made guts and gore into a playful rebrand for Thackray Medical Museum


Make visitors squirm with delight. That was O Street’s aim for its rebranding of Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds.

Thackray wanted to connect with a new generation by updating its historic identity. Being based in a 160-year-old listed building and focusing so heavily on the history of medicine, the brief could be seen as quite the challenge.

O Street rose to the test. Taking inspiration from Thackray’s provocative mix of exhibitions, the creative agency’s concept “What’s Inside Us” became the catalyst for the identity. This led to a logo consisting of abstract colourful organs, bacterial shapes and outlines of medical tools.

Previously, the public wasn’t so aware of what delights awaited them behind the museum’s doors, claims O Street. So it set out to spread the word with a city-wide campaign. The agency says that signage was a priority for the brand: “We used the abstract elements of the logo on the fences leading up to the building to intrigue visitors and passersby.”

David Freer of the Thackray rebranding project design team mentions that after learning about the museum’s core audience – school children – they wanted to highlight the gory details that kids find exciting; “they always gravitated towards the gruesome exhibits.” Freer says that seeing medical gore through the eyes of a child, “like a Tim Burton film or the Mexican Day of the Dead,” transforms it from something repulsive to something more playful. Playful is the essence O Street, in turn, tried to emit through the campaign.



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