A complex challenge
British Council are the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Their role is to help foster mutual trust and cultural understanding worldwide. We were tasked with creating a clear and consistent brand positioning and coherent identity system for the Arts business unit in order to achieve their strategic objectives both internally and externally, and assist in drawing them closer to the British Council brand.
The Arts business unit is divided into eight groups spanning architecture, design and fashion, creative economy, dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts. Their role is to reflect the extraordinary strength and creativity of the UK arts scene — working overseas with the best of British creative talent to deliver innovative, high-quality events and workshops that provide a platform for sharing ideas in new markets.
A universal solution
We created a positioning statement that focussed on their unique role, which was that "We foster creative dialogues between the UK and the world to share the transformative power of the arts". Using this directive, we then created a cohesive and distinctive visual identity system that helped unite the individual artforms and provide a platform for the Arts Strategic Business Unit to express itself globally in a consistent, creative way.
The visual identity system was designed to sit within the existing British Council guidelines, but it allowed flexibility for the individual artforms to be expressive in their own right when needed, whilst ensuring through a systematic approach that they could be easily applied across every territory.
However, the messaging of this role was being limited by a positioning and design implementation system that was not being adhered to internally, and then communicated externally in a variety of different ways. We needed to provide British Council Arts with a unified messaging solution that made sense internally and could then be communicated systematically and globally with coherence through distinct levels of design applications.
Flexibility vs. consistency
The key component of the identity system is a modular core information panel; a fixed yet flexible proportion of each and every document which can be more or less expressive, dependent on the type of communication being created and its relationship to the British Council (Arts). This distinctive solution provides a consistent visual element that is instantly recognisable as belonging to the British Council Arts whilst allowing creative freedom when communicating to unique audiences.
This core information panel can also house key elements and practical information — such as exhibition titles, partner logos (if appropriate), URLs etc.
Images courtesy of the British Council guidelines