Above All, Brand Identity

My name is Jasmine Speaks, I am a senior majoring in Film and Media arts, and Advertising, with a concentration in Art Direction.

My name is Jasmine Speaks, I am a senior majoring in Film and Media Arts, and Advertising, with a concentration in Art Direction. This semester, I’ve been interning at the Franklin Institute as a graphic design intern in their marketing department. Since being with the department, I have learned so much about designing and creating within the boundaries of a brand’s identity. The Franklin Institute is such a well-known museum, especially to those who are from Philadelphia, and because of this, its core identity is such an integral part of their business. Every element needs to have some degree of consistency so as to facilitate the connection people are able to make between the different museum exhibits, programs, and events, and create a cohesive experience from the moment they encounter the institute, to the moment they leave.

Toward the beginning of my internship, I think I was oblivious to the importance of some of these ideas, so when I would design things such as digital ads for a new exhibit, there would usually be small elements that would need to be changed because they were inconsistent with the “Franklin Institute” identity or did not mimic the style of similar communications prior to it. Recently, at the Franklin Institute they have opened the “Worst Case Scenario” exhibit; This exhibit is based on a book about how to survive in a variety of dangerous situations—and the look and feel of it mirrors the appearance of the text. The graphic design department pulled these elements from the book in creating the initial images and communications and then used those as the standard for any future work. So, once it came to me producing work for the exhibit, something as subtle as a red stripe on an ad in the opposite direction than usual was noticeable by my supervisor and needed to be corrected.

I’ve also seen that even as the museum works on introducing new programs and expanding their appeal to a broader audience, the marketing and graphic design departments take care to stay true to the fun and friendly feel of “The Franklin Institute.” Gotham is a trademark font of the Franklin Institute, so much of their communications use the font by default. In one sense, it could be seen as limiting creativity and the range of solutions possible for a design, but I’ve learned in another sense, that it pushes creativity even further by forcing me to invent new ways to try to use the typeface, in different contexts and styles so as to refrain from becoming dull.

This experience has definitely been a nice peek into the world of working in-house for a brand. I know that there is such a difference between working at an agency where the clients can change, and may have varying standards in terms of what is allowed when it comes to their brand versus working in-house for one brand, who you must grow to know and understand so that you can be best equipped for creating work for them. I think it has taught me about the types of brands I would be interested in working for and has helped me to realize that an agency may be a better fit for me upon leaving school. However, no matter what this internship has been valuable for making me more cognizant of the significance of brand identity in any and all of a brand’s communications to the public.

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