Rebranding the State Library of NSW

There has been fierce debate across the globe about the future of libraries in recent months. Fox News recently announced libraries are a waste of money and should be closed and the Chicago Public Library has come out fighting against this claim. There is a long trail of online articles on this issue so the CAN Outreach Blog decided to interview the design agency responsible for rebranding the State Library of New South Wales (SLNSW) to hear their thoughts on the public’s perception of libraries.

Cat Burgess, Frost Design

Vince Frost and Cat Burgess, of Frost Design, believe people are consuming information in new ways and libraries can be part of that. While libraries are in the knowledge business, they offer an experience that search engines cannot. They believe Google cannot replace the physical form. Librarians are enthusiastic and passionate about their ability to facilitate research. When Frost Design was given the brief of redesigning the State Library of NSW’s identity, the first question they asked themselves was – ‘Do they need a rebrand?’.

Vince Frost, Frost Design

Environmetrics were commissioned to carry out qualitative and quantitative research with focus groups of existing and potential users. The psychographic tests came up with two main profiles – academics and researchers who are looking for information and don’t care where it comes from. The library’s branding does not influence this demographic. The other group are culturally motivated, seek out interpretive information like exhibitions and public programs, and so are heavily influenced by the brand. They would like to visit the library but were intimidated and put off by a perception that the library is only a destination for academic pursuits. Once they were actively engaged they found the library welcoming. So the rebrand needed to focus on this second group.

Frost Design’s biggest challenge was not to undermine the strength of the brand while giving it an open, accessible and contemporary feel. Mr Frost came up with the concept of ‘a sense of surprise’ which was conveyed through the logo. Mr Frost believes online does not have the same respect as the onsite experience and so the goal was to encourage discovery in the library.

Links of interest
‘Which Future for Libraries?’,
‘The Future of Libraries’, ABC Radio National, 30 June 2010

Tips for designing library websites

2 Responses to “Rebranding the State Library of NSW”

  1. Roger Hawcroft Says:

    Only the ignorant or misguided will seriously suggest that there is no longer a place for the library. It is an ignorant view, based on false assumptions and generally given impetus either by the desire to make money or the desire to save it.

    For a start, libraries are no more homogenous than are museums, so which libraries are we talking about – that are supposedly obsolescent? And why is it that we suppose the only really useful measurement of worth, today, is a directly economic one? There are many more useful indicators of value, however, even in economic terms, sound arguments can be made and evidence found to demonstrate positive ROI factors for most libraries.

    Lastly, there is the furphy that ‘libraries’ (remember, we don’t know which) are out-of-date. That their utility has been surplanted by electronic wizardry and the Internet. It hasn’t, you know. Certainly there is an ever increasing amount of data and even, information, available to us through the miracle of electronics. But volume doesn’t necessarily equate with quality and, in fact, may well obscure the particular gem we really need and make it harder to recognise and obtain than before.

    And just as data isn’t information, information isn’t knowledge. The conversion of one to the other requires intellectual intervention and application of appropriate organisational and interpretational strategies – best provided by human beings skilled with language, knowledgeable about particular sources and capable as translators for the clients. These people have been around for a long time – they are known as: librarians.

    No, the library isn’t obsolescent – it as necessary as ever and perhaps more so. Does it need to change – yes, but libraries have always been good at that, and even usually in the forefront of it.

  2. Fred Says:

    It’s new brand is the Interrobang.

    A non-standard English language punctuation mark.

    Use of an interrobang may be considered somewhat redundant, considering the same effect is captured in standard English by ending a sentence with both an exclamation point and a question mark, however this is considered incorrect English. The interrobang is non-standard but acceptable.

    Q. When Frost Design was given the brief of redesigning the State Library of NSW’s identity, the first question they asked themselves was – ‘Do they need a rebrand?’.

    A. No!

    So how much of tax payers money was spent for Frost Design to come up with a somewhat redundant punctuation mark anyway?

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