Bristol Beacon
Make space for music
Brand idea | Narrative | Identity | Website | Social | Communications
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Bristol is a city with a great musical culture. But the biggest and most important venue, Colston Hall, was an Edwardian concert hall named after a slave trader, Edward Colston.

When the venue was to be redeveloped and rebuilt the board decided it was time to change the name to reflect the diverse and multicultural city that Bristol is today. As always with historical sites, there was furious resistance and the town became polarised.

The death of George Floyd in America focused the world’s attention on race and on the history of discrimination. In Bristol the response was immediate and dramatic. The public statue of Colston that had dominated the Main Square was dragged from its plinth and thrown into the harbour.
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The task now was to come up with a name and identity that reflected Bristol’s powerful love of music and the arts and its large and diverse community of creators.

The new name is Bristol Beacon. A beacon symbolises hope, optimism, safety, a gathering place, celebration. Bristol Beacon was re-invented and re-launched from a traditional and highly divisive civic music venue to a community-focused music organisation.

The theme became “make space for music’.

The new organisation makes space for music in everyone's lives, from the first time you pick up an instrument to seeing the greatest gig of your life. It will reach out to schools and communities and connect with people who would never have considered walking into the old, formal building.
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This new brand had to be made in Bristol. And ideally by the people the new organisation most wanted to reach, or it would never take off. We connected with a radical artist’s collective called Rising Arts Agency (some of whom had helped Mr Colston when he went for his little swim in the harbour). Three of their young designers worked on the project, with our London studio giving background support.

The new look is all about passion and vitality. It’s a look that you feel, more than see. Like the audience, it doesn’t accept the old classifications and boundaries. Music is music. The Beacon makes space for all kinds.

Rosa ter Kuile, the young creative from Rising Arts Agency who became the lead designer on the rebrand, knew exactly what it had to be: “Expressive. Inclusive. Unfiltered. A little bit wonky. Like all of us.”
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Transform Awards 2022 Gold
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