A Battle Worth Winning: Norwich Castle Rebrand Explored

Category

Branding

Read Time

6 min

Published

26 April, 2023

Established in 1067, Norwich Castle is a landmark in Norwich – a cathedral city and district of Norfolk, England.

This site, which was originally constructed as a royal palace by the Normans under the orders of William the Conqueror following the Norman Conquest of England, has served as a museum since 1894.

Although intended to function as both a royal residence and a defensive fortress, no monarchs ever took up residence there.

For centuries, the keep served as a prison until a smaller jail was constructed in the late 1700s, which now houses the site’s primary gallery complex.

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Today, the museum is home to many significant regional artifacts, including works of art, archaeological discoveries, and specimens from the natural world.

Visitors may also tour the castle, which is currently undergoing a £13m renovation and is scheduled to reopen in 2024.

In preparation for that, Norwich Castle has introduced a new brand identity designed by a local firm called The Click.
Norwich Castle in black lettering on beige background
Credit to Under Consideration

Stripping back the logo

The old logo showcased an outline of the castle as though you were looking at it from below to highlight its towering presence over the city of Norfolk.

To further emphasise the size and volume of the iconic landmark, it utilised a light and dark blue on each side which resulted in the overall finish being much more dramatic.

However, the mix of colours and the level of detail in the previous emblem made it difficult to replicate at varying sizes.

This brings us onto the main flaw in the old design which was that it wasn’t very flexible or adaptable when it came to application.

Furthermore, the visual emblem always sat alongside the name ‘Norwich Castle’ as they were part of a singular unit. The multi-colour approach (consisting of light blue, dark blue, and orange) also meant the logo could not easily exist in single-colour.

Bringing things forward to the new logo it now still showcases the castle but the detail has been stripped right back to the bare minimum.

Instead of an almost 3D approach with a varied colour palette, the new emblem is a solid square utilising a black and beige palette.

In my opinion, whilst this is simplistic it still conveys a huge sense of grandeur and volume which is helped by retaining the solid (albeit flat) cube shape.
Norwich Castle lettering inside of grid layout
Credit to Under Consideration

Encasing the name inside of the logo

Whilst some might say the flat, 2D approach of the castle is too minimalist, encasing the name inside of the shape helps make up for the loss of perspective.

Placing the name inside makes the cube shape seem even bigger, again adding to the presence this historical landmark carries.

Typeset in URW’s Franklin Gothic, the name is simple and easy to read, set in black typography against a beige background.

It’s not the most creative lettering, but it’s clear and easy to read for the volume of tourists who visit this site each year.

The simplicity of the type also makes this easy to replicate across collateral – something we’ll be exploring later in this review.

All-in-all, this is a solid logo that visually represents the size and scale of the castle whilst stripping back the elements as much as possible.

A modular, grid system

The nine merlons of the castle have been neatly converted into the logo and can be seen throughout to create the perfect synergy.

This fairly traditional grid system works well to create a logo that is clearly recognisable and representative of the castle. It also creates a good sense of balance and solidifies the lettering in the middle of the emblem.

In fact, when designing the new logo, the castle asked members of the public to draw a picture of the castle from memory. Armed with a pen and post-it note, they had just ten seconds to complete the task.

The results guided the creative execution which can be seen throughout this rebrand. Just take a look below at some of the recollections from the public and you will see this reflected in the new logo:

yellow sticky notes showing drawings of a castle
Credit to Under Consideration

We crafted an uncompromisingly simple mark – unmistakably portraying Norwich Castle. In isolation, the core brand logo is understated and intentionally unembellished.We removed everything from the previous brand logo that wasn’t needed – distilling the visual representation of the castle to its simplest and most iconic form. – The Click Project Page

yellow, green , and pink signs for Norwich Castle
Credit to Under Consideration

Eye-catching applications

Whilst the brand identity isn’t anything too creative (we’ve talked a lot about simplicity and minimalism) it does work fantastically well across different pieces of collateral.

In particular, the information signs and banners that are visible throughout the castle are really eye-catching and demand attention.

This just goes to show that you don’t need an electric colour palette or lots of fancy icons to capture the eye of your audience.

All of the signs showcase a similar style, but subtle differences such as making the ‘No Entry’ signs purely black and white create a more dramatic effect.

In comparison and to reflect the nature of the messaging, some of the other signs feel more calming with softer, warmer colours.

Again, this might seem like there’s not a lot to credit The Click for, but getting something so simple so right can be a tough balance.

A Battle Worth Winning: Norwich Castle Rebrand Explored

I’m a real fan of this rebrand as I think it’s proof that design doesn’t have to be ‘too designed’. Sometimes the simple approach is the best instead of cluttering the brand with lots of fancy icons and images.

In the case of Norwich Castle, they’re just not needed.

The strong, cube-like shape showing the nine merlons is a fantastic way to represent this iconic landmark and truly reflects the size of volume of the castle itself.

Coupled with the minimalistic colour palette, it makes for a really strong finish that’s sure to capture any history-loving tourist.

At Canny, we love diving into rebranding projects to evaluate what worked against what didn’t. We’ve worked with some fantastic brands across the globe to help transform their branding to better connect with their audience. To find out how we can help you, get in touch with our team.

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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