Manchester-based design studio True North has created a visual identity for Showtown, a new museum dedicated to fun and entertainment opening in Blackpool in 2021. Inspired by the “joy and whimsy of Blackpool itself”, the identity nods to the town’s history as a hub for comedy, ballroom dancing and circus.
The new museum will tell the story of Blackpool’s growth as a seaside attraction – an incredible 18 million people stroll down the promenade each year. Using more than 800 objects, including Stan Laurel’s iconic bowler hat and costumes belonging to Morecambe and Wise, the museum will highlight some of the people responsible for turning the town into an entertainment hub. The £13m project will be located on the Golden Mile in the Sands Venue Resort Hotel, which will also be the town’s first five-star hotel.
Likening the identity to an “all-star cast performing on stage”, True North’s design system is built up of ‘brand blocks’ – colourful, toy-like cubes featuring graphic icons inspired by experiences visitors will have at Showtime. The logo comprises similar squares, with the letters of the museum’s name created through shapes of contrasting colours.
Alongside the blocky logo, simple shapes like circles, triangles and stars have been configured to make recognisable pictures. For example, three circles atop a triangle become an ice cream cone, while a star hovering above a triangle is a simple Christmas tree. The studio has even used the blocks to create an image of fez-clad comedian Tommy Cooper, who was a regular on the Blackpool circuit.
True North creative director Steve Royal says in a release about the project, “The blocks take their cues from the modular design of the Showtown logo, each is a square flat-colour icon, representing everything from ice cream on the beach to a balancing circus elephant. The scheme isn’t set in stone: it’s as fluid and playful as the stories it helps tell.”
True North worked with copywriter Nick Asbury to develop witty, upbeat text for the brand’s initial posters, and has been advising architects Casson Mann, Why Not Associates and Studio Treble on how the brand will work across wayfinding, interiors, film and animation.