San Bernardino County Museum

The New Southwest

San Bernardino County is one of the largest and most geographically diverse counties in the United States. It covers more land than nine US states and 70 countries. The county includes 35 wilderness areas, a national forest, parts of two national parks and the highest peak in Southern California.

I was approached by the new curator of visitor engagement to create a logo that, along with a new permanent exhibit and some proposed infrastructural upgrades, would bring the museum into the modern era. He also wanted a visual system that the in-house design team could use to create new signage and promotional material.

Going in, I knew that the logo would need to be approved not only by the museum board but also by the county government, which was reluctantly allowing the museum to explore branding outside its umbrella. That was, of course, going to be a massive challenge—as was creating a logo to represent a county with such deep natural and human history.

What I came up with was an abstraction of the county’s arrowhead. I wanted to pay homage to the earliest known inhabitants of the area: the indigenous Serrano people, who have lived in the valley since approximately 1000 BC.

My goal was to revive a local institution. Almost everyone I spoke to about this project remembered having been to the museum as a child. They recalled the brown walls, the butterfly collection, the fossils they were pretty sure had been there. But they were ready for something more, something else. So, the brand had to feel playful yet modern—and it needed to appeal to the area’s booming millennial population.

Client

San Bernardino County Museum

Role

Creative Direction
Identity Design
Strategy

I pulled colors from photos I had taken while hiking around San Bernardino County. Flora from the local desert produced surprisingly brilliant hues.

Unfortunately, the only aspect of this project that ended up seeing the light of day was the color scheme. While the museum did approve the rebrand, the county ultimately decided against funding the upgrade and deemed it unnecessary to allow the museum autonomy in its rebrand. So, for now, this only lives here!

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