National Football Museum’s new identity champions English football heritage

The museum’s new logo references the shape of the building and also resembles a goal and football.

Ahead of the 2024 Euros, creative agency Poke Marketing has rebranded Manchester’s National Football Museum to emphasise the importance of football in English culture.

The rebrand comes at a time of transformation for the museum, which will look very different by 2030, so it needed an identity reflective of this new direction. Poke sought to create something that excites audiences both internally and externally, an identity that is future-proof and able to keep pace with football’s constant evolution.

Having a senior team with very strong experience in the football sector, working with the likes of Everton, Chelsea and Arsenal in previous roles, helped Poke to stand out in the pitch process. The agency recently completed a similar project for another national tourism venue, Liverpool Cathedral.

“The museum is an amazing place, and the work it is doing to share the stories of football, unite visitors and make football for everyone is fantastic”, says Poke managing director Nicola Docking. “They also have very clear growth objectives, along with a team of strong marketers in-house, so it was a dream client to win.”

The visuals are driven by the brand idea Football Matters, which aims to spotlight the sport’s complex and important role in society. For many, it is not just a game but represents collective enjoyment, prompting emotions and creating an impact.

Docking explains how the National Football Museum exists to “house and harness the power of football, to share stories that influence, to showcase culture and involve and motivate people to creatively partake”. The creative team felt that the short but powerful phrase, Football Matters, encompassed all this.

Taking inspiration from the shape of the museum building, Poke designed its new logo to be a ‘goal’ graphic device, with the dot as a football. It also takes cues from the makeshift ‘goal posts’ you see painted on walls and from jumpers in a field.

According to Poke creative director Mark Harrington, the National Football Museum’s new colour palette pairs vibrant, contrasting colours together, communicating “the power, energy and diversity of football whilst providing flexibility in creating assets for different audiences”. As for the new photography style, all of the imagery was chosen for its authenticity and ability to reflect the inclusivity of the Football Matters theme.

“It’s about real people and real visitors enjoying the experience and what football means to them”, says Harrington.

Poke worked with Manchester-based photographer Bill Wright to capture imagery that encapsulates what it’s like to visit the museum, echoes the diversity of the visitors and showcases the quality of the experience.

Area by Blaze Type and Halyard by Darden Studio are the two typefaces in the new identity, both of which are from foundries that value craft and have a heritage of creating fonts for international audiences. Harrington says: “We chose the fonts for their accessibility and flexibility, and their ability to create impact as well as being bold, warm, honest and empathetic.”

The copy itself adopts a new tone of voice that reflects how the team talks to visitors during the in-museum experience. Harrington describes it as “positive, inspirational and even, at times, aspirational.”

Since the museum’s audience is diverse, including visitors from overseas, the tone is simple, and the copy is punchy and easy to understand. “From visitors who come with little ones to our older generation who’ve followed the museum like their own team, the copy must make everyone feel included”, he says.

The copy also imbues a kind of confidence that opposes arrogance, a subtle acknowledgement that the National Football Museum accepts “the responsibility of its heritage and position in the city of Manchester and beyond”, Harrington adds.

Rolling out the brand – especially the logistics of transforming the building for launch – was one of the challenges of the project, which was pulled off through a huge collaborative effort with the museum and its suppliers. “We really wanted to utilise the brand in a big way inside and outside the museum, so this was an opportunity to bring the brand to life using all the graphical elements that we had created in a way that was sympathetic to the physical environment”, Harrington explains.

This involved full-colour graphics and one-way vision vinyl at the entrance and exits of the huge glass building, allowing for eye-catching signage while letting daylight in. “The result is a truly immersive experience that uses the branding to its fullest”, says Harrington.

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