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Branding & Visual Identity

Historical Society Of Pennsylvania

Empowering people, families, and communities through history.

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.

hsp workshop
HSP stakeholders gathered and put their minds together to work through the exercises we had designed for them.


Our Work

We explored HSP’s challenges and core strengths in interviews, work sessions, and site visits, as well as a survey of staff and stakeholders.

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:

“Philadelphia’s Library of American History.”
hsp logo tagline
We adjusted up the existing logo by refreshing the typography and the inclusion of a new tagline.

Making it personal

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:

"Make history yours."
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The credo "Make History Yours" serves as both permission and directive and speaks to both their internal and external audiences. 

On the credo, HSP writes:

"We passionately believe that when we take the time to find ourselves in the past, we promote civil discourse that expands our worldview, strengthens our democracy, and enlivens our perception of American identity. Through history, learn not only about ourselves, but about our neighbors as well."

hsp business cards mockup
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We realized the necessity for a logo family—something that allowed for the logo to be abbreviated—so we created this badge to be used in support of the brand.
HSP membership brochure mockup
The membership brochure was the first piece of collateral to predominantly feature the new brand. As a result of the new branding efforts, membership numbers rose following this piece being sent out.
hsp thank you card mock up

The Roll Out

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.

hsp portfolio folder mock up
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hsp mug mockup
hsp post cards
hsp make history yours comp 3
hsp make history yours side by side

History Is Alive

Through a series of workshops and interviews, we helped the Historical Society of Pennsylvania update its brand to make its own history relevant to contemporary audiences and bring its strategic plan to life.

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hello@punkave.com 215.755.1330
Rachel Emery
Director of Partnerships