The Historical Society of Philadelphia has been preserving and archiving America’s history since 1824. Their holdings include drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution as well as personal letters, diaries, and scrapbooks that paint a rich, intimate portrait of American life from the 17th century onward.
In 2016, HSP was implementing a new strategic plan with the goal of making history “relevant to everyone.” They wanted to update their brand to help their core audiences—scholars, history enthusiasts, and genealogy researchers—understand the breadth and unique character of their holdings. At the same time, HSP sought to shed new light on the lives of marginalized groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community.
HSP engaged P’unk Avenue to rebrand, evaluate re-naming the organization, and incorporate the guiding principles of its strategic plan into a new identity.
The inclusive process helped us focus in on HSP’s core strengths: its collection, opportunities for exploring family history and genealogy, and its programs that bring history to life. At the same time, we recognized the challenges posed by securing donations, staying relevant, and increasing brand recognition.
HSP was contemplating a name change as part of its re-branding, but remained uncertain whether the benefits would outweigh the loss of name recognition. To guide the HSP team through this decision, we helped them generate a list of relevant words to draw from as they brainstormed potential names.
Ultimately, HSP decided to stick with the name they had built over nearly 200 years, but the exercise helped us build upon it with a tagline to add definition:
The discovery process with HSP also brought to the forefront the concept of personal connection: the intimate familiarity of staff with the materials in the archives, the personal nature of many of the pieces themselves, and the connections today’s visitors find with the past.
We elevated that sense of the personal through a new credo for HSP:
The credo "Make History Yours" serves as both permission and directive and speaks to both their internal and external audiences.
After the initial debut, we began to apply the new brand to all of their existing collateral as well as dreaming up new applications. Much credit to the HSP Marketing team who took the bull by the horns and really owned the brand.