Posts tagged ‘The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’

August 21, 2010

Deficits at the Top

In times of prosperity, organizations want to show off graphically. In times of recession, organizations proudly do a lot with a little. Yet there is always a line of professionalism to uphold. Except for nonprofits. Amateur graphics run rampant, which can’t do much for a group’s credibility!

As digital tools allow groups to create amateur graphics more easily, the overall quality of design has diminishes. Ironically, design is more important than it has ever been due to the Internet. An even playing field allows small groups to compete with large groups, local orgs to compete with national, national with international. The scope has exploded!

In completing my evaluation of the Midwestern nonprofits, the 80/20 Rule is in full force. Of the 700 evaluated, 160 have graphics that score highly enough to discuss. Yet to find a consistently strong graphic strategy seems impossible. None score high in all five categories!

Beginning with the overall graphics of those who score the highest:


Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, preview, review, is strong in every category but publications.

Metals Service Center Institute, preview, review, could have a better website.

Second City, review to come, has an unimaginative logo and scan publications.

Popcorn Board, review to come, has a confused identity but strong in all other categories.

International Association of Lighting Designers, preview, review, is compelling graphically but weak in publications.

Entrepreneurs Organization, preview, review, compiles a strong package that could go one step further to be truly distinct.

Churchill Centre, preview, review, offers a lot of online features but is weak in publications.

Perhaps the two organizations that come the closest to being a true blend of excellence are the Entrepreneurs Organization and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Both prove that big budgets and fancy approaches are not as good as following basic rules in good communication.

Each week, I will examine organizational graphics that are of the Not the Best but Could Be category. Visual communications include the most important membership benefits and the biggest ways to attract prospective members. If improved strategically, each group explored has tremendous, if not unlimited, potential.

The Sebastian Study 2010, national review will be available at the end of the year. If you want to be sure that your organization is included, please click here.

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June 17, 2010

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The best graphics lead the viewer on an adventure. Where better to do this than at a nature museum? The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s graphics visually echo the richness of their location. Their publications demonstrate a considered integration of media. How they tie a great variety of features and attractions together can teach lessons for audience interaction.

Five Criteria for Graphics that Work:
Evaluating The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

spiral bullet Use of logo: An organization’s logo has a story to tell—encapsulating the personality, philosophy, and tone of an entire organization.
As expected for their genre, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s logo expresses exploration, variety, expansiveness, and fun. It provides a sense of adventure in a cut-paper style that can appeal both to children and adults. Without reading the museum name, the viewer knows the focus. It is rare when a logo comprised of many images can unify simply. Flexible for many uses, this image is also highly recognizable.

spiral bullet Theme: The visual first impression is dominated by the total gestalt—look, feel, purpose, and benefit. Further contact is consistent and supports personality and philosophy.
The animals and plants introduced in the logo permeate the museum’s visual language—even through style changes. Blending the cut paper abstract illustrations from the logo with realistic photographs, borders, and new media begins the ambient experience.

spiral bullet Content composition: Building from a recognizable theme, the presentation is easy to grasp, clear, and engaging.
Most website animation is gratituous. But on The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum site, the crawling images support the content. The museum provides an inviting collection of short videos on their Public Programs page—a great and seamless use of YouTube. However, their publications seem skimpy. The webpage presents magazines that are not kept up to date.

spiral bullet Consistent style: A series presents a visual language and an ambient atmosphere, promoting a positive experience and relationship with the audience.
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum website template is static but supports a huge variety of visuals to represent programs, exhibits, and events. The little animal icons, colors, and typography keep the personality flowing. The static pages, such as Who We Are have more visual tie-in to the theme. Elastic enough to bring a large choice of media viewing, the major features on each page below the fold encourage browsing. The ultimate goal of publications results in visitors to the museum—so efforts clearly lead in that direction.

spiral bullet Distinctive: The most successful presentations have a memorable twist—something extra that is unique.
The communication graphics for The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum make such a strong visual statement that they create an experience as a glimpse to an actual visit. Setting up consistent expectations, the museum is distinctive with a strong integration of range.

See the Overview of the best Midwest organizations to present strong and compelling graphics.

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