V&A Museum. UK, 1852
London’s Victoria & Albert Museum has been celebrated as one of the world’s premier design institutions for more than a century. With a collection of more than two million artefacts, ‘the V&A’ is a treasure trove loved by designers, retailers and manufacturers in the UK and beyond.
Over recent years, the museum has taken very deliberate steps to extend its reach and influence via its brand. It’s a response to financial realities, as well as the modern challenges (and opportunities) of fostering popular appreciation for design.
On one front, this has seen the V&A mount hugely successful exhibitions that appeal to visitors beyond its traditional catchment base. Special exhibitions that appeal to specific fan bases like David Bowie Is… and Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty have achieved huge acceptance, while elevating the V&A’s international brand profile with culture tourists and touring shows.
Through its V&A Enterprises division, the museum has instigated several platforms to commercialise its assets and add notoriety and quality to the V&A experience. Record visitor numbers and annual off-site revenues of several million pounds are proof of its success.
A large percentage the V&A’s income comes from sales through its online gift and book boutiques, as well as royalties from a network of around 40 licensees. More than half of the companies in the ‘V&A Inspired’ licensing programme come from the USA and Japan. They create and market decor, fashion and gift products that give new commercial context to the museum’s collection, while benefitting from trend research services provided by the V&A’s curators.
Museum gift shops worldwide are becoming increasingly popular destinations and the V&A has one of the best in the business. As well as carrying products from its family of licensees, ‘V&A Created’ is a separate label that enables the store to collaborate on exclusive pieces with leading names from the world of design. Collaboration products created specifically for special exhibitions provide another outlet for V&A to call attention to its brand and arouse curiosity.
‘V&A Loved’ is another store category that enables the museum to showcase important examples of design away from the formality of its exhibition halls, while generating additional sales.
“How Retail Products Elevate the V&A’s Brand Profile” is a post from Collaboration Generation: a series profiling companies who use brand innovation platforms to double down on specialness, and extend their reach and influence.