National Railway Museum celebrates a 15% rise in visitor numbers since a rebrand by Thompson

by Nick Ramshaw

The museum is the largest railway museum in the world, telling the story of rail transport and its impact on society. With National Museum status, it has the important responsibility of representing the subject area’s past, present and future. In recent years, however, the museum was suffering appealing mainly to enthusiasts and not families families, resulting in 4 consecutive years of falling visitor numbers.

  • NRM knew that it needed to review its brand in order to drive visitors numbers and increase family appeal. With funding increasingly hard to come by, these uplifts were crucial if they were to meet their ultimate objective to grow revenue to sustain their business.

    NRM undertook a brand repositioning exercise, defining its brand essence as ‘Connecting Generations’ and defined a new essence and set of values. We were appointed to create a new visual identity to articulate the new brand and to help improve consistency of communications and behaviour.

    We created a contemporary brand identity, but one that also reflected the rich heritage of rail travel. The brand was brought to life with a new logo and branding designed to reflect movement and speed. We also introduced the use of name in full, rather than the abbreviation ‘NRM’ as a reminder of the national status and specialist subject matter of the museum. We also created extensive brand guidelines and a large selection of applications designed to help the Museum team roll-out the new branding, including the website, merchandise and signage.

  • The results have been fantastic, against all objectives set. After the rebrand, NRM saw their visitor numbers increase by 15% between 2011 and 2013. Family visits have improved too, increasing from 41% to 59% of the total visitor numbers. All this in a falling local market, which saw visitors to major attractions in York down by 12% from 2009 to 2012. Online visits increased by a huge 34% between 2010 to 2011. The rebrand delivered a staggering return on investment: an additional 7 visitors for every £1 spent on the rebrand exercise.

  • Our Creative Director Ian Thompson worked on the branding himself and thoroughly enjoyed the project: “It doesn’t get much better than this! A fantastic project with a wealth of history, iconic imagery and wonderful reference, all combined in a re-positioning brand exercise for one of the best museums in the world. The results speak for themselves!”

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