Weekly Re-Brand #17: The ROM

Welcome to the Blade Weekly Re-Brand, a place for us to take a quick look at some of the rebranding going on in the world and give a quick impression of what went right and what went wrong.

This week, the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) made headlines as they updated their logo to a “dynamic” new design meant to show that the ROM is “more than just dinosaurs”.

The old ROM logo (left) vs. the new ROM logo (right).
The old ROM logo (left) vs. the new ROM logo (right).

What was wrong with the old ROM?
In interviews, Kelvin Browne, vice president of communications at the ROM, shared with us the results of some brand research the ROM conducted before undergoing this redesign. The results?

“Our brand research said two things unequivocally; One was huge recognition for the ROM but ‘I don’t really know what you do.’ The second was ‘whatever it is you do, I bet it doesn’t change very much.’”

Kelvin Browne
Vice President of Communications at The ROM

During the research, it was also discovered that the ROM was better known for its unique building design (mirrored in the old logo) than it was for the collections of art, antiques, and yes, dinosaurs inside.

The new ROM logo promoting a sea-life themed exhibit.
The new ROM logo promoting a sea-life themed exhibit.

Does the new version fix the problem?
The old logo didn’t scream “dinosaurs”, and the new one doesn’t either. It drops the shape of the building for a very simple, stylized wordmark. Then the dynamic elements come into play; The logo was designed to be able to incorporate elements from different collections and displays without altering the branding. This is definitely a nice way to show that the ROM isn’t just dinosaur bones.

The new ROM logo promoting an historical exhibit.
The new ROM logo promoting an historical exhibit.

What new problems are introduced?
To me it looks a little too much like CD-ROM. Perhaps that comparison is inevitable given the acronym, but I suspect if you didn’t already know it was the logo for a museum, you would be hard pressed to figure out what it was a logo for. On the other hand, the dynamic elements that can be inserted certainly give some big clues, although the execution leaves a bit to be desired. Hopefully, over time these elements will become simpler and more graphic in order to blend more with the simple elegance of the wordmark. One thing I suspect will be missed is the colour palette of the old logo, which I always found instantly recognizable on billboards and posters.

Is it an overall improvement?
Overall, I would have to say yes. Losing the colours may be an issue, and the execution of the dynamic elements could use some work, but this is definitely a case where the good outweighs the bad.

Full Disclosure: I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to only visiting the ROM to see the dinosaurs.

Do you think the new ROM is an improvement?

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