How we named and branded Esplora – Malta’s Interactive Science Centre
It could have been named Skopri, Scientifun, Sciport or various other names, but we decided to call it Esplora through a meticulous process that also went on to define the brand identity using effective scientific research methods to ensure wide popularity with our main target audiences.
Our first contact with the Malta Council for Science & Technology and its National Interactive Science Centre, as it was called until then, was in July 2013, when our bid in the competitive tendering process was deemed to be the most advantageous and we were awarded the contract. After signing the paperwork, we had our first inception meeting and site visit on 19th November 2013. At the time, the place consisted mostly of derelict buildings on a wet and muddy building site, but the ambitious vision of the planners was made clear to us when we were presented with the master plan details. Our excitement at being part of this mega-development peaked that day and this was when we started really looking forward to seeing everyone enjoying it when it would eventually be completed some three years later.
Extent – Our assignment included the naming and design of the brand identity and web presence, as well as defining the environmental styling of the Centre. So throughout the process it was important for us to make sure that the various sub-brands we were creating such as the Café, the Planetarium and so forth were also part of the same identity. This was more challenging with a sprawling site in the state it was then and working on a destination brand with which you cannot possibly be previously familiar because nothing like it existed before.
Naming & Brand Identity - Our practical work started soon after the contract signing and in early January 2014 we held another orientation meeting and the first branding workshop with our partners Harrison:Fraser. A lot of other internal work both from our client’s side as well as on our part had already been done by then and the purpose of this day long workshop was to crystallize all the ideas together and begin to narrow our creative direction to go into the qualitative research process.
For this process we presented the top six names to four focus groups consisting of parents of children aged under 16, teachers and science enthusiasts, a cross section of the general public and a fourth group consisting of children under 14 years of age. From this, ESPLORA came out as the definitely preferred name by the vast majority and the decision was promptly taken to go with it.
We then ran intensive quantitative research with a sample size of just over 1000 people from different walks of life. This is considered to be more than ample in relation to the population of Malta and our objective was to test six brand identity design directions we had shortlisted with the client, to find out which would be the most popular with each target audience. The overall end result was a rejection of four designs and an exact tie between two very different logos.
So we went back to our studio to assimilate all the findings and come up with a solution to tick as many boxes as possible. The final Esplora logo was designed and tested and soon after it was happily approved by our client. With the client, we then developed the strapline – “explore, think, imagine”, and the basic branding part of our work was complete with the delivery of the first set of Corporate Identity manuals.
Environment Styling – After the name, strapline and brand identity had been approved, we could move on to designing the Environmental Style Guide for Esplora. This detailed guide effectively enables people to live the brand and for this work we relied on our sister company DAAA Haus (www.daaahaus.com) within Logix Creative Group. It involved several studies of spaces, colours, materials, and construction guidelines to direct the fabricators working for Esplora on the sort of look and feel everything should have. By March 2013 this was delivered complete and on schedule and the rest of the work from everyone else working for Esplora could continue within the cohesive branding structure we had developed.
Web presence – In the meantime, whilst all the other work was progressing in earnest, our web development team was working on building a new website for Esplora and setting up its social media channels. Detailed studies of user interface (UI) design were made in order to plan the site to work well from pre-opening to launch and then to post-opening, and to make it function properly on desktop as well as mobile devices for people of all abilities. The site was designed to celebrate the brand identity and after launch in May 2013, it soon became the focal point for all matters related to the Centre’s marketing communications activity.
Working on this national scale project has given us tremendous pride in our work and challenged us to outdo our own high benchmarks of quality and reliability. So much so that we eventually managed to win another competitive bid for the marketing communications campaign for the launch of Esplora. This then consisted of producing visual communication concepts, a radio jingle, TV spot, corporate video and photography, as well as planning and executing a large scale national campaign across all media and organising no less than sixteen outreach events around Malta and Gozo during the Summer of 2016.
In all it was a process of three years from when we named the project to when it was open to the general public on 28th October 2016. They were three years in which we handled many other shorter term campaigns and projects, all the while anticipating the build up to this huge launch. Working with the entire Esplora and MCST team has been a tremendous pleasure and much of the success of our work is owed to them for their professionalism, dedication and real passion for this magnificent place.
As a creative media company, we are very fortunate to have built a superb setup for naming and branding and then bringing the brand to life in the interior design and styling and online in the digital realm, and we look forward to continue working on many other projects of this nature in future.
You can visit the Esplora website here: www.esplora.org.mt