• Transform magazine
  • June 20, 2019

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Historic-modern typography reinvigorates Museum of Iceland's brand

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With a renewed vigour befitted the Viking raiders of yore, Viking culture, history and heritage has bled back into popular culture recently. That has been coupled by increased tourism to Scandinavian countries, prompting Iceland to turn toward sustainable tourism models.

However, part of a place’s brand is built from its museums and what they can offer visitors and citizens alike. For the Museum of Iceland, an outdated visual identity was allowing the institution to capitalise neither on the interest in Viking heritage nor the increased tourism to Iceland. Its staid, serif typeface and digitally unfriendly logo were holding it back.

The museum turned to communications agency Jónsson & Le’Macks and artist Siggi Odds to refresh the brand. The result is worthy of any Viking leader.

The logo and wordmark have retained the same structure, but the text is now rendered only in English. The type has been updated to a modern slab serif and the logo delivered in a punchy bright coral and white. Using detailed, visually intriguing photos of single artefacts helps draw the eye to the simplified posters. Crisply photographed, the artefacts pull focus, but the brand’s unique coral colour and simple, recognisable sword icon maintain consistency across the visual identity.

But where the rebrand really comes to life is in its use of typography and historically influenced colours and icons. The typography was developed as a blend of ancient runes, mediaeval script, letters from 16th century artwork and a clean, Scandinavian serif font. The result could have been a mess and instead is visually captivating as letters are still recognisable in their various scripts. The colour palette is similarly drawn from multiple eras of Icelandic history. The overall effect is historic and modern at once.

The brand has been implemented throughout the museum in matte bronze lettering.

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