The Natural History Museum were the client of Hat-trick Design, let’s be crystal clear on that from the start, and their strategic consultancy on this was with the excellent Jane Wentworth Associates. The idea to do something with the words ‘The power of nature’ was Hat-trick’s, not mine. I helped with the verbal elements both for the pitch and later in development meetings and tone of voice workshops with the museum as the brand was implemented and then adopted in-house. So why include this project here as a piece of ‘strategy’?
Because it’s a great example of how words can influence a major strategic decision.
There was never any doubt that Hat-trick would do a great job for the NHM. But first they had to get the job. At the time they were a tiny agency of a handful of people with no track record (as an agency) of having tackled anything of this scale, and none of the reputation they later earned. In the pitch, they were up against giants such as The Partners and Interbrand. Hat-trick were the high-risk choice, the rank outsider. And I know – because I’ve known the people involved for getting on for twenty years now – that the words which wrapped this up helped the NHM see that the best cultural match was with Hat-trick. Strategy is writing. Emotion turns the key.
What we did
The phrase ‘The power of nature’ is in the public domain, it’s common, not new in itself at all. However, what we did with it was different enough. We looked at how every facet of the power of nature can be (re)expressed to provoke a human response. What started as a long paragraph of text became spread across a handbook of a hundred pages or so. It was a celebration of creativity through interaction with the natural world. Words were the thread that directed Hat-trick’s endless fountain of ideas to a focal point: how museum visitors would respond. Nothing mattered more to the Natural History Museum than that.
What happened next
Hat-trick won the project. The spirit in the handbook became the spirit of the brand work, without discernible change. That was in 2004 – the identity is still alive and well today.