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The Courtauld

A world leading centre for the teaching and research of art history, and a stunning gallery that showcases one of the finest art collections in the UK. From old masters to iconic Impressionist masterpieces.

Based at Somerset House in London the gallery closed for a £57m makeover with the doors reopening in November 2021. As part of its commitment to ‘One Courtauld’, we were tasked with repositioning the brand and website to reflect their cornerstone belief in ‘art for all’.

The Courtauld is a complex institution with two distinct offers, studying and visiting. We began by immersing ourselves in their world. We spent time auditing existing communications, running creative workshops, and consulting closely with the client throughout the iterative process.

Historically there had been a confusing mix of brands and sub-brands. Our ambition was to simplify into one identity, with space to stand out.

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  • Identity
  • Web
  • Print

The wordmark has a sharp graphic quality that echoes the chiselled sandstone building whilst being reminiscent of hand-drawn lettering. Reflecting an air of history with a contemporary edge. Creating a punchy counterpoint, a single weight of GT America was selected as the headline typeface. A condensed style that accommodates bold sizes whilst being practical on space for academic titles and adaptable for editorial design or use on the website.

With such an extraordinary collection to draw from, colour is a critical component of the brand’s personality. A rich and vibrant palette works in harmony with, or juxtaposed against imagery to provide maximum impact.

The adaptability of the visual language has enabled all departments to feel confident in communicating to varying audiences. Our team developed cohesive formats and extensive guidelines across applications for: exhibitions, student materials, campaigns, social media, signage, products and more.

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The Website

For such a vast site with all of its creative and technical challenges we chose to partner with our friends at Un.titled. This collaboration provided The Courtauld with the perfect mix of expertise.

Fundamental to the site’s success was looking at it from the outside in, putting the user’s needs at the heart of the process. To that end we conducted a series of deep-dive exercises including: KPIs, goals/objectives, personas, site-mapping and detailed wireframing.

The design employs the brand identity at its best to engage new and existing audiences. Built on WordPress, the site integrates with Tessitura, Shopify and Flywire. We provided SEO guidance and training across the whole organisation.

As The Courtauld opens its doors again to rave reviews, we continue to provide ongoing partnership support.

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“Spy were methodical, strategic, creative and took the time to listen to people around the organisation. Both their approach and their output was excellent.”
Lorna Gozzard, Head of Communications and Marketing, The Courtauld