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Museum of the Shenandoah Valley

Changing product, changing brand

Located in Winchester, Virginia, the Glen Burnie Historic House and Gardens opened in 1997, with seasonal tours of a historic house and formal gardens—primarily an adult experience. Eight years later, with the plans for a $20 million museum designed by Michael Graves, the attraction's narrow focus shifted to tell the story of the entire Shenandoah Valley region. The museum's director called on Beth Singer Design to develop a comprehensive visual brand that would help propel a seasonal destination of local reputation to a year-round complex that today enjoys regional and national recognition.

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Museum of the Shenandoah Valley — Dedicated to interpreting the art, history and culture of the Shenandoah Valley, and is located in Winchester, VA. The site consists of a historic house, formal gardens and the museum.
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Museum of the Shenandoah Valley — Press kit designed to house several sizes of brochures, fact sheets, business cards and visual tour of the experience.
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Museum of the Shenandoah Valley — Advertisement, part of a branded set of materials. Grid system allowed for flexibility in showcasing new pieces of the museum's collection as they were acquired.
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Museum of the Shenandoah Valley — Invitation to museum's opening party, explaining the three features of the on-site experience. Part of a branded set of materials.
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Museum of the Shenandoah Valley — Main brochure, part of a branded set of materials. Cover grid system allowed for flexibility in showcasing new pieces of the museum's collection as they were acquired.
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The BSD solution

Marketing strategy determined that it was important to strongly position the Glen Burnie Historic House and Gardens as an integral part of the site. Regional marketing and on-site data indicated that both elements—the house and the gardens—resonated with couples traveling without children in Virginia and the Valley. To capture the attention of tourists traveling as families and to interest local school groups, we knew it was important to communicate the flavor of the broader experience that the site now offered with the addition of the new museum.

Beth Singer Design, and longtime collaborator, Marge Lee of MuseumWord, conducted several meetings with museum staff and board members to develop criteria for the market positioning. After assimilating all objectives and visitor data, it was established that the museum name would change to Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, and a secondary tagline—“The House • The Gardens • The Museum”—would assure that, at a glance, all key components of the site’s experience were marketed.

Beth Singer Design developed a number of design studies for the new branding approach. The winning approach featured a handsome image-grid that allowed presentation of many photos of the site experience. The logo itself also incorporated image elements related to the house, gardens and museum. The dynamic logo not only states the name of the museum, but at a glance visually communicates its scope.

The new brand was applied to 13 unique pieces: press kit, rack card, museum collections booklet, fact sheets, visitor's guide and site map, display advertisements, pre-opening brochure, membership development brochure, three event invitations, newsletters and stationery package.

Objectives achieved

In the end, all elements of the marketing and communications package garnered much praise and enthusiasm by all stakeholders and audiences. The museum’s opening was favorably reviewed in a nationally circulated online story and in 20 other national publications, among them The Washington Post and The New York Times. Staff attributes a large degree of this success to the quality and nature of the marketing materials and strategy.

Today, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley greets some 30,000 visitors annually. Countless more people experience the site in school group tours, special events, and private rental events. Membership has soared to 1,000, and these members support the museum programs in unprecedented numbers. Six years after the museum opened in 2005, the branding approach remains fresh through the simple addition of new image elements into the grid and continues to serve the client extremely well.