Alt Group generates algorithm-savvy branding for Auckland Art Gallery

MoMA as a name might work well for New York’s Museum of Modern Art, but apply the same acronym theory to Auckland Art Gallery (AAG) and Alt Group’s Dean Poole reckons it would sound more like something “the cat would bring up”. No, according to Poole, having the consistent theme of ‘ART’ running through the re-developed gallery’s new branding is much more effective. 

Alt has been working on the branding for the past 18 months, having won the business through a credentials pitch. 

“It all just fell into place really,” said Poole. “We presented our idea and they ran with it.” 

The agency is no stranger to creating brand identities. It’s picked up a heap of awards, both local and international, for its ‘I AM’ identity campaign for Auckland Museum — a brand identity that played on the Auckland Museum acronym. 

Poole said the gallery was interested in the agency's museum work, specifically the way it had shifted the perception of the museum to one that was “far more consumer conscious” and was “having a conversation with its community”. 

According to Poole, museums are unique because they’re not selling anything. Rather, they’re “presenting an opportunity for you to engage”. Galleries are much the same.

The intent for the gallery right from the start was to have the brand appear on all forms of media, including billboards, flags, erasers (A DISAPPEARING ACT), T-shirts (ARED SHIRT), gallery maps (ARIGHT LEFT) and re-opening promotional material (A CROWD RETURNS). 

It was also critical to find a way to incorporate the Maori aspects of the gallery name, AUCKLAND ART GALLERY | TOI O TAMAKI.

But aside from all the product branding, the gallery also features a unique way-finding system around different collection themes, each incorporating those three letters (A RELAXING STROLL, WANDERING HEART). 

The primary red, black and white colours were chosen for their strong link to the New Zealand story, with Poole adding that red “meets the eye more than any other colour”. 

A self-confessed text and algorithm junkie, Poole said it wasn’t just about making a mark. 

“We had to ask if we could build a brand around it that was like a living identity. Something that meant every time you saw it, you knew it belonged to the gallery.” That’s when the sentence structure came in.

“The trends are really around typographic constraint. With a brand like this we wanted to come up with something that was a statement and also a proposition about what art is—having art in everything,” he said. 

“It needs to introduce the public to art and then it needs to get out of the way. The content is the art itself. That’s the visual experience. We wanted to create a voice for the brand.”