V&A show tops Agenda

As easy as it might appear, branding a brand exhibition has its challenges, as Agenda Design Associates discovered for its latest collaboration with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

As easy as it might appear, branding a brand exhibition has its challenges, as Agenda Design Associates discovered for its latest collaboration with London’s Victoria & Albert Museum.

Later this year the V&A will be home to Brand.New, an exhibition celebrating the history and power of consumer brands – from cars to consumer products and clothing – and their place in contemporary culture. The show is being designed by Thomas Heatherwick Studios and curated by V&A curator Gareth Williams and University of Brighton/ V&A research fellow Jane Pavitt. It opens on 19 October.

Agenda was asked to present ideas for an identity for the event, which would symbolically encapsulate consumer brands for the public. Agenda creative director Paul Davis and his team sat down to try to find a thread from the array of powerful, but individual marques before them.

Davis recalls how it became clear that to piece something together using a letter from each brand identity, such as the B from Bentley or the R from Rolls Royce, would be unfeasible. The Agenda team then started to think about the literal meaning of the word brand, and its connotations with cattle branding – ‘the idea of a tattoo, that something can be actually branded,’ Davis says. The task then was to find a meaningful, modern interpretation of the meaning and apply it visually.

A bar code was the preferred idea, not only as it appears physically on virtually all branded products, says Davis, but also with its overtones of the commercial world. ‘It is the one fingerprint which links all brands,’ he adds.

All six of the V&A’s representatives at the presentation were impressed by the idea and pleased with the concept for the identity. In the run up to the October opening the consultancy will be applying it to banners, signage, press packs, marketing materials and two books. Agenda has also been asked to design two leaflets for the Friends of the V&A, as a separate project, on the back of its work for Brand.New.

Client: Victoria & Albert Museum

Design: Agenda Design Associates

Design Team: Paul Davis, John-Paul Hunter, Moira Cullen

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