Oliver Cromwell, one of the most significant and polarising figures in British political history, reputedly told his portraitist: “Mr Lely, I desire you would use all your skill to paint my picture truly like me, and not flatter me at all; but remark all these roughnesses, pimples, warts and everything as you see me, otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it.”
The Cromwell Museum in Huntingdon, housed in Cromwell’s old school, is dedicated to telling the story of his life and times, and making it relevant to contemporary visitors.
Spring was asked to help the museum examine and express its brand, and through that the brand of Cromwell himself, when the museum was in the process of moving away from its previous management by Cambridgeshire County Council. Becoming an independent organisation, run by a board of trustees, and self-funded, presented the museum with a set of strategic challenges, arriving at the same time as the museum was undergoing much-needed renovations.
We provided the rebrand strategy and out of that we created a new design approach for the museum. Our stripped-down, ‘puritan’ approach included a logo featuring Cromwell’s hat and the highly distinctive image of Cromwell’s quill-written signature: a mark of authenticity and of Cromwell’s personal approval. These key visual elements convey something of Cromwell’s character, as well invoking the aesthetics of the unique era of the English Civil War and the brief interregnum when England was ruled by the Lord Protector.
The look was followed through with a new website, as well as print and digital publicity materials, including simple but striking posters featuring Cromwell’s portrait, “…pimples, warts and everything”.