When Fitchburg Art Museum joined the Creating Connection Massachusetts cohort in spring 2017, they were ready. They had just radically changed how they wanted to show up in their community—overhauling their mission, vision, and strategic plan to reposition the museum for community service—and they were eager for their brand to reflect that same energy and commitment.
And it was time. For nearly thirty years, the look and feel of Fitchburg Art Museum’s brand remained the same.
“FAM’s former institutional brand identity was launched in 1989 to coincide with the successful completion of a capital campaign and the construction and opening of a major new wing,” shared FAM Director of Development Rebecca Wright. “Over the last 30 years, little work had been done to strengthen, improve, or update the brand. …The old brand quickly became not only obsolete, but dissonant – even antithetical – to the new FAM.”
So when Creating Connection presented an opportunity to test new communications strategies that reflect core community values, the FAM team quickly began a process to reimagine their identity and messaging. They asked themselves, how can our brand and identity show our new community engagement priorities, interactive programming, and broad base of stakeholders and partners?
Developing a new values-based brand identity
Over the course of a year, FAM used the insights they had gathered from their inclusive and community-centered strategic planning process to work with branding consultants and the Creating Connection team to define their core values and discuss how those values appear in their brand. They invited stakeholders and regional partners into the process and conducted focus groups during the discovery phase of the rebranding design.
It was important to FAM and stakeholders that the new logo be as welcoming as possible. The new logo is open, interconnected, and interactive – just like FAM. The design also reflects the City of Fitchburg with its architectural and industrial strengths, and its red color. Red is the official color of Fitchburg.
According to FAM Director Nick Capasso, “our new brand reflects the energy, quality, and commitment to community of the rejuvenated Fitchburg Art Museum, while also representing the City of Fitchburg. We are proud to adopt this fresh 21st-century look that will signal to diverse communities in the city and region that we are accessible and approachable, authentic and fun, creative and inspiring.”
As Rebecca reflected, “We found that [Creating Connection] was absolutely instrumental to the development of FAM’s new brand identity, and that the design of our new logo reflects the message framework’s emphases on openness, inclusion, and embrace of people served rather than product offered.”
She adds, “Initial feedback from internal and external stakeholders has been unanimously positive. Moreover, everyone immediately understands how the new look and logo communicate our values of inclusivity, equity, community service, and programmatic excellence.”
Launching a new, updated brand identity to reflect the Museum’s current mission, recent revitalization, and increased commitment to the community, was a key goal outlined in FAM’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan. Although staff at the museum are thrilled with this major accomplishment, they are just as excited for what is next.
According to FAM Director Nick Capasso, “Later this year we will begin Rebranding Phase Two, which will include a new suite of printed collateral, and FAM-branded merchandise. We will also be working with our new Marketing Manager to develop and refine language for phone and in-person greetings, advertising, and press releases, all grounded in the Creating Connection messaging framework.”