Project: QAG/GOMA rebrand

Published:  April 16, 2012
Jake Smallman
Project: QAG/GOMA rebrand

Queensland Art Gallery (QAG),
Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) rebrand


Interbrand Melbourne/


Queensland Art
Gallery of Modern Art

While Melbourne and Sydney like to think of themselves as the cultural capitals of Australia, some really interesting things have been happening in Brisbane in the past few years. When we met the team at the gallery we knew this was going to be a great project. They are very ambitious and they’re pulling exhibitions into Brisbane before other cities in Australia and in the case of Valentino – exclusively. They’ve developed relationships with the Pompadou, MoMA and Tate, they’re playing on the world stage.

The initial brief stated that there was confusion around the two galleries (GOMA and QAG); people didn’t know that they were one institution. There were many possibilities: should they be one brand and just have two venues, building A and B?

Should they be two completely different brands that you don’t know are related at all? Should they be related, but different? We really looked at the opportunity of doing something unique – to build on the core truth at the heart of the brand in that you’ve got two galleries, each great in their own right for different reasons. One has been overshadowed (QAG), by the success of the other (GOMA); we needed to work out how to play up the strengths of each.


QAG/GOMA cafe cups

We did a whole lot of stakeholder interviews, lots of desk research and also surveys with 624 gallery members. GOMA is only five years old, and has been doing incredibly well. It has been getting a huge number of visitors. The problem was that QAG had almost been forgotten, even though prompted visitors spoke fondly of it. While run out of Melbourne, this was a project that really captured the imagination of everyone at Interbrand Australia, with creative directors, designers and writers collaborating across offices.

The whole idea was ‘alone together’, because they’re two very different galleries, but when they go out to the world, they’re together. It’s this duality of the two that is the interesting part about them. The creative concept that came out of that was yin and yang – it’s about recognising that you need balance. It’s not trying to make them the same, but it’s actually celebrating the differences between them. You’ve got two different perspectives, which end up being these two personalities that populate every single thing that they do. We had the idea that you could give the traditional art connoisseurs a new point of view, while, at the same time, giving the modern art lovers a new take on the traditional things they thought weren’t relevant to them. No matter what the subject, you’re always going to get two unique points of view. In terms of the identity, one is a very simple, clean, refined mark, whereas the other one is very bold and quite bombastic, but they come together and share something in the middle.

Tone of voice examples from brand video

QAG/GOMA gallery store bags

Initially, it was about trying to find out who these two galleries are. QAG is the book, GOMA is the film; QAG is IQ, GOMA is EQ; QAG is Stephen Fry; GOMA is John Lennon. We had a lot of ideas around the duality of them, and one was that it’s almost like the different hemispheres of the brain, one has this immediate emotive reaction, and one tries to rationalise it and think about it. So, QAG informs you in an historical and educational context, whereas GOMA is about provoking and challenging you, questioning what you thought you knew.

QAG tells you ‘this is art’ and ‘this is why it’s art’, whereas GOMA challenges you and asks, ‘is this art?’ The identity is about always bringing this to life – it’s always wrapping around things, cropping off things. It’s about always trying to get across these two very different points of view. We ended up being able to play out the amazing duality of a lot of these things in a really interesting way in terms of language, and also literally.

An idea we had was with the menus in the galleries’ cafés. You may order from the GOMA or the QAG cafés, and you’re actually getting exactly the same thing, but one would talk about the menu in terms of the provenance and the produce and the way it’s prepared (QAG), and the other one (GOMA) might be much more like a modern restaurant, which would just list the three or four key ingredients, and they wouldn’t even tell you how it’s cooked.

Another thing we’re trying to do is to encourage people to go to both spaces. Don’t just go to one and think that you’ve had a rounded experience, because you probably haven’t. To encourage people to go to the other space, we looked at things like giving patrons half price coffee in the other gallery’s café. We want to allow visitors to get a QAG point of view in GOMA and vice versa, so even when you’re in one gallery, you get the voice of the other.

QAG/GOMA letterhead

QAG/GOMA pencils

We’ve used the same typeface (Flama) across both galleries; one is a very light version and one is a very heavy version. We chose Flama because we needed a typeface that had a certain neutrality to it, due to the fact that it’s going to be sitting next to art from every era and style possible, and also that we wanted the two to be the yin and yang of one another and not necessarily be one serif and one sans serif and be obviously based too much in style or era.

The app, which is still in development, is going to play quite a big part in terms of how we get across the two points of view. You go through and look at different artworks and get different points of view on them, which you can agree or disagree with. The app will give you a rating at the end (e.g. ‘you are 76 percent GOMA’). The idea is not to try and get 100 percent, but to try and get 50 percent. Ideally, you’ll get a really balanced, well-rounded view that’s come from seeing both sides of the story.


Usually, we try to avoid looking at competitors in the same sector, but this is one sector where we definitely looked at everyone that’s been doing anything interesting. We looked at things like the Tate, obviously. The Tate is the classic. It revolutionised arts branding. Arts institutions have realised now that, actually, galleries are competing with cinemas and sports events and everything else for the audience’s time. It’s not like you can just put yourself in this little box, because if you do, you’re not really going to be considered at all. The Tate was the first one to really say, ‘We have a personality and a point of view that comes across in everything that we do.’

We did consider having a certain ‘Brisbaneness’ in the identity. Initially, some of the other concepts we looked at were a bit more colourful. We thought that reflected Brisbane and the excitement of modern art, but, in the end, the strength of the idea dictated that it be black (dark grey) and white – the way to get the most extreme contrast between the two.

Two views
For anything that’s on at either gallery, there are going to be two different points of view that challenge one another, and you as the viewer as well. It’s the only gallery in the world that’s going to have two different points of view on whatever it has got going on – a dialogue between the two galleries. The brands are now this duality that exists, not just in a geographical location, but in everything that both galleries do.

From desktop magazine.

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