Virginia War Memorial - Brand Campaign
or: How we positioned a little-known memorial in a complicated city as a universal monument to the loss we all suffer.
After winning the pitch, our team has been working closely with the War Memorial Board to bring the updated branding and creative work to life in conjunction with the launch of the new wing, scheduled to open on September 11th of this year.
current situation -
“Honoring the memory”
The Virginia War Memorial opened in 1956 and is dedicated to those Virginians who passed in combat from WWll to the present. The facility holds educational classes to help keep memories and history alive while also paying homage to those who died in combat. Currently, the Virginia War Memorial is undergoing a $26 million expansion that will include a new wing that includes a lecture hall and an educational facility.
Left: The Shrine of Memory at the Virginia War Memorial.
the tension - A memorial struggling to find its place
To better inform the Memorial’s current position in the city, our team conducted a competitive audit of other monuments and attractions in the city, as well as man-on-the-street interviews. We encountered two major problems as we dove in: first, consideration and awareness for the Memorial were significantly lower than we anticipated.
“It’s that place on Belvidere, right?”
“I should have gone in, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.”
“That place is actually open to the public?”
And second, Richmond’s history as the capital of the Confederacy lead the Memorial to be conflated with the Civil War.
“I assume it’s something for the Confederacy?”
“It’s got to be something to do with the Civil War.”
“When I think of Memorials (in Richmond), I think of Monument Avenue.”
The new wing presented us with an opportunity to identify a purpose for the Virginia War Memorial, giving the memorial a central meaning that the public can understand immediately.
“…When I think of the term memorial, I think of paying tribute. Since I wasn’t directly affected by any of those wars, I feel like a memorial may not be a space for me.”
We found that for some, the term ‘memorial’ limited the scope of possibility, feeling exclusive and denoting a static environment.
the opportunity -
but what about a museum?
Where a memorial is perceived as static and mournful, a museum can be engaging and educational. Many of the educational programs that the War Memorial had to offer fall more into the second category, but without the proper branding, the public would not know what they were missing. Branding the memorial as a museum can make it a popular attraction for tourists traveling through town and not just a headstone to those we have lost. This led to our first recommendation: a change of name to better highlight what the Memorial had to offer.
the insight -
“It’s not something we want to experience, but we can all relate”
We know that war can be one of the most dividing events in a country’s culture. Especially in a city divided by monuments, people will make a point to stick to their guns and defend their point of view.But while we may not agree on the purpose of war, we understand duty and support the people who put themselves in the line of fire for our safety. Almost everyone we talked to has watched someone go overseas and fight for our freedom. And just like we respect those who go overseas, we mourn their loss when they don’t come home.
Strategy: The Virginia War Memorial & Museum unifies us in remembrance.
More than a print campaign
We chose to take our campaign past print in order to raise awareness and educate the public on the purpose of the War Memorial and Museum. To introduce the new branding into the wild, we redesigned all stationery and brochures with our updated logo and branding. In order to draw attention to its physical location, we’ve designed a customized crosswalk that leads pedestrians straight to us. Lastly, to allow the museum to step into the educational sphere, our team organized an internship program, allowing students to apply to participate and interact with the space in new ways.
The shrine in augmented reality
In order to make the shrine more of an educational and interactive experience, our team developed an app prototype to teach visitors about the people behind the otherwise faceless names on the wall. We partnered with the War Memorial, using their database of biographical information and personal stories, to turn visiting the shrine into a more appealing experience for a younger generation.