The Bodleian Library is the main research library of the University of Oxford, and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. With over 12 million items, it is the second-largest library in Britain after the British Library. As well as its role as a world-renowned learning resource, the Bodleian’s historic buildings (including the Divinity School and Duke Humfrey’s Library) are among Oxford’s most visited tourist attractions.

The Bodleian commissioned us to undertake a review and refresh of their visual branding. The exercise was driven in part due to the changes within the organisation in the 40 years since the last rebranding exercise, and also by the need to address the need to communicate to a range of different audiences, from readers and University faculty members to exhibition visitors, tourists, and those considering venue hire.

Having carried out a brand audit, we worked with the Bodleian to create a new brand strategy and identity. The existing Bodleian marque, a rendering of the Divinity School based on a 16th century drawing by John Bearblock, had been created in the late 1980s by renowned designer David Gentleman, and our brief originally mandated that this should be retained. However, the ‘quirky 3D perspective’ (Gentleman) and complexity of the marque made it difficult to use in layouts, and equally difficult to reproduce at small scales and in digital applications.

By redrawing the marque to create a simpler, more streamlined logo and pairing this with elegant new typography, we produced a fresh but evolutionary brand solution for the organisation’s next chapter, and a distinctive but flexible Bodleian brand style.

With new branding principles in place we went on to create a comprehensive guidelines document for the Bodleian, which covered all branding applications, from visitor leaflets, signage, literature, publishing, retail and web communications. In addition we developed new materials for the Bodleian Friends programme, the Bodleian Shops, and the regular ‘What’s On at the Bodleian’ publication.

“The Bodleian Libraries brand needed a modern update, to reflect a world-class library service in the 21st century, while also considering its formidable history. The new guidelines produced provided a comprehensive visual identity that brought together all offline and online communications into one clear brand. The elegant re-rendering of the Bodleian Libraries logo, featuring the historic Divinity School, was the perfect evolution of the brand. The approach to this work was thoughtful and considered and the result is a timeless but modern solution that perfectly fit the Bodleian’s requirements for now and the future.”

Bodleian Libraries