Claire Cossaboon: On-site Research is a Key Resource!

An image from The Barnes Foundation’s Instagram account.
The Barnes recently started using Instagram as one of its social media voices.

My thesis has evolved to be a narrative case study of the Barnes Foundation’s efforts and journey to its current brand, the brand’s launch, and various current applications. I will discuss the different sectors of branding: visual, language, experience. I have been exploring the different types of challenges that come with establishing a new brand identity. I have researched issues that come with branding an institution that has multiple offerings, and challenges associated with expanding a brand while an institution has expanded its experiences and audiences. My thesis concludes with suggestions for future applications of the Barnes Foundation’s brand.
As this thesis not only tells the story of the Barnes’ pre-redesign efforts, but also includes a real-time discussion of the institution’s current style guide and brand applications, it was vital that I engage in on-site research through summer and fall 2012. My graduate assistantship at the Barnes and all of the research opportunities I have encountered during this time have been key thesis resources. While at the Barnes I have reviewed footage from focus groups and analyzed the institution’s printed materials from over the years. I have also had the opportunity to conduct numerous interviews with staff from various departments. These interviews determined my understanding of how branding has impacted all areas of the institution, as well as how the various departments apply branding. 
I have also assisted Kathleen Greene, Public Programs Manager, with the researching, planning and scheduling of future public programs. This coordination, along with assisting at public events and my efforts with the institution’s social media initiatives, has allowed me to brainstorm how the Barnes’ brand can be applied to best communicate its offerings and develop stronger relationships with its visitors, members and the public in the future.
There is no way I could have pursued my thesis topic without this real-time on-site access to The Barnes. My interviews and daily interactions with Barnes staff and audiences have given me insight for my “Recommendations” section of my thesis. My hopes are that my suggestions will be of great use for the Barnes during these next few years.