RA (Royal Academy of Arts)

A compelling new expression of purpose

Where did we start?

Founded in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts has built an international reputation for its exhibition programme and achieved this through independent status. The ambition of its original members to promote art to the widest possible audience is still core to the RA’s mission today. Under new leadership the RA set in motion a ‘Plan for the Future’, with the aim to articulate a clear sense of the purpose and direction. Our brief was to help the RA define its core principles and beliefs, while at the same time showing respect to its rich heritage and help clarify the RA’s position against a background of increased competition and a complex organisational and stakeholder structure. We also needed to encourage staff to work differently and through this project achieve a sense of collective enterprise.

What did we do?

We began by investigating the internal and external perceptions of the Academy and we consulted with all key stakeholders, including staff, Executive and the RAs. We created a strategy with fresh, clear and simple language that resonated with the diverse groups, something they could all believe in and have the ambition to deliver. Our clarification of the RA’s purpose also created a strong foundation for the RA to articulate their strategic objectives and become more focused in what they were trying to deliver. We also broke down silos internally to get interdepartmental groups working together, helping to build a culture of trust and respect.

What's the impact?

The strategy has informed the new visual identity designed by Harry Pearce at Pentagram, which has achieved a balance of modernity and heritage and has given the RA a more clearly defined visual language with a stronger point of view and personality. We are also in the process of facilitating a Brand Ambassadors programme, exploring how staff can engage with the RA’s new values to help them make decisions in the day-to-day. The strategy is also helping shape the RA’s digital offer ensuring the RA will be fit for purpose in the 21st century and we are working with the Schools to articulate their story and shine the light on the RA offer ‘make, exhibit, debate’.

"JWA's brand strategy work helped us arrive at a compelling new expression of our purpose and provided a great platform for our next-level strategic planning. Their ongoing staff engagement support has significantly contributed to the embedding of the new strategy across the Academy."

Will Dallimore, Director of Public Engagement, Royal Academy of Arts

Design: Pentagram