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The Nordic Museum

Brand & Signage

The Nordic Museum is the only museum in the United States that showcases Nordic history, values, immigration and contemporary culture across all five Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden). The museum celebrates Nordic culture and heritage as well as the strong ties between the Nordic countries and North America. Twentieth-century Seattle was built on the Nordic-heavy timber and fishing industries, and became the unofficial Nordic capital of the United States, so it's a natural place to locate such an institution.

In 2018, the Museum relocated from its original, modest building to a brand new, 58,000 SF facility on the shores of the ship canal in Seattle's historically Nordic-centric Ballard neighborhood. Turnstyle was tasked with updating the museum's logo and graphic identity system to commemorate this momentous change. The biggest challenge for the rebrand was a perception issue—we needed to shift people’s expectations of the museum from its humble roots to its ambitious new mandate. A successful shift would mean expanded membership numbers, increased appeal among younger and more diverse audiences, and drawing visitors from across North America and around the world.

Client

The Nordic Museum

Disciplines

Identity, Print, Environment

Credits

Architecture: Mithun
Exhibits: Ralph Applebaum Associates
Imagery: Dan Morris, Mir

Recognition

APD No. 14 "Outstanding Contribution"
Reviewed on Brand New

Nordic Logo 5

What does “Nordic” even mean?

Among the many challenges of the project was developing a design system equally reflective of—or neutral to—five different Nordic cultures (Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish and Icelandic) that have many things in common, but are also fiercely proud of their cultures’ unique and varied attributes. There is much agreement on what makes something Norwegian or Icelandic, or even Scandinavian. But what does “Nordic” look like? How does it sound?

The solution

Rather than trying to identify a singular symbol that equally represents all five Nordic countries, the new logo takes inspiration from the museum's architecture. The building's defining characteristic is a dramatic “fjord hall” that runs through the structure, and the logo's stylized “N” echoes this architectural gesture. This simple geometry, in turn, informs a series of colorful patterns and shapes in a palette inspired by the national identities of all five Nordic countries.

Nordic Floating Cards
Nordic Logo Colors
Nordic Guidelines
Nordic Poster 2
Nordic Viking Flyer 2
Nordic Brochure Yellow 3
Nordic Tote 6
Nordic Journal 2
Nordic Tshirt 2
Nordic Badge 2
Nordic Buttons
Nordic Stationery Green
Nordic Tote 7
Nordic Cup 4
Nordic Membership 4
Nordic Posters Blue 2
Nordic Newsletter 4
Nordic Newsletter 5
Nordic Newsletter 7
Nordic Guide 1 B
Nordic Envelope Mailer 2
Nordic Mailer 1 B
Nordic Mag 1
Nordic Mag 2
Nordic Mag 3
Nordic Mag 4
Nordic Mag 5
Nordic Mag 6

Signage

Working with Mithun Architects and Evermark Signs, we designed a 16-foot-tall, two-sided monument sign at the building's entrance. Wrapped in blackened metal, it complements the stoicism of the bulding's exterior. And like the building, it gains its warmth by emanating light from within—a reveal between the two faces of the plinth casts a vibrant glow. The LEDs can be controlled by computer to create different color effects to connect with seasonal events and promotions.

Nordic Signage
Nordic Signage 5
Nordic Entry2 2400X1800
Nordic Interior Sign 2400X1500
Nordic Opening 4

Grand Opening

Leading up to the much-anticipated opening of the museum in May 2018 were a series of events, some quite exclusive and others open to the general public. We created digital and print invitation materials to support these efforts. Throughout its transition, the Nordic Museum has received enthusiastic support from the governments of the Nordic countries and from various organizations like the Nordic Council. On the day of its public opening, many distinguished guests were in attendance, including Iceland's president Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson and her Royal Highness Mary the Crown Princess of Denmark.

Nordic Invitation Red 3
Nordic Invitation Blue 3
Nordic Fjord Hall 2400Px

"We launched an international search to rebrand the Nordic Museum and hired Turnstyle; they helped us transform our image to match our new building. We’ve exceeded our outreach and engagement goals and the new brand was critical to that success!"

Erik Pihl
Community Engagement
Nordic Museum

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