Museum of Children’s Arts

Making a Splash, Making a Difference

Front Group was thrilled when the Museum of Children’s Arts approached our studio to develop a fresh brand and an attractive, functional web presence to replace the institution’s dated site. After months of work, the results speak for themselves!


Rebranding & Web Development

Primary Logo

Business Cards

Printed Collateral

Interior Signage

a look behind the rebranding process:

At the start of 2013, MOCHA had begun to take the first steps towards a fundamental shift in the trajectory of the 24 year old Oakland-based arts organization.

A new staff, new board and new executive director with a creative and inspiring vision for the future were all eager to move out of the past and redefine the museum to better meet the needs of young people across the Bay Area by providing them with vital spaces to share and connect through art. Our studio was tasked with developing a revised identity that would reflect and communicate this new direction and help build an excitement around the evolving arts institution.

Site Visits and Organization Analysis

Before diving into the specific details of developing a new look for the organization, we spent a good deal of time around MOCHA talking with staff, parents and kids and learning as much as we could about the history and day to day operations of the museum.

It was immediately clear that this was an institution with no shortage of content from which we could draw all kinds of inspiration.

Initial rebranding discussions included ideas about changing the organization’s name and moving away from referring to it as a museum.

The Museum of Children’s Arts’ main focus has always been hands-on arts programs for kids and not maintaining exhibits and galleries. After thoughtful discussion and research, Front Group proposed keeping the name and embracing the identity of a museum in an era when many museums are moving towards interactive and participatory models. MOCHA can position itself as a leader in this turn and it has 24 years of overwhelmingly positive experiences that far outweigh any benefits that would come with a new name.

Sketches & Concept Mockups

We began to sketch out various ideas by hand. A lot of them were half baked and silly but together they laid the crucial foundation for fleshing out the best concepts to show the client.

  • initial sketches for MOCHA (1/2)

  • some additional sketches for MOCHA (2/2)

From these sketches, we executed a series of mockups that explored what the concepts could actually look like when rendered digitally. Some were much more successful than others!

  • MOCHA concept mockups (1/2)

  • MOCHA concept mockups (2/2)

Narrowing in on the Best

Out of all the sketches and mockups, one in particular stood out.

It was a child’s hand integrated into the lines of overlapping splashes of paint. When we presented the first round of mockups, the staff at MOCHA agreed. The chosen direction kept the “hands on” theme of the old logo but took the concept and execution in a new and energetic direction.

Next we worked to refine the vector line work.

We cleaned up the curves of the paint splatter and made the hand less cartoonish. Notice the changes in the fingers and the shapes of the splash edges in the before and after versions to the right.

After settling on the final vector shapes, we set out to explore various color palettes and typographic selections that worked with the chosen concept.

For the colors to work together, we used a simple logic. The color palette would need to be made up of three main colors. The right splash, left splash and bottom splash would each be assigned one of these main colors. The two intermediary splashes on the lower left and lower right of the logo would be the combinations of the colors in the two main splashes to either side. And where all the splashes overlap and form the shape of a hand, the color is made up of all inks added together: black.

In our typographic experimentation, we were surprised to find that there were serif, sans-serif and slab serif options that all seemed to have potential. But across the board, the rounded typefaces we played with all worked the best with the fluid shapes of the hand and paint splashes. They also conveyed a friendly look that matched MOCHA’s identity.

The Final Execution

In the end, we went back to the photos we had taken in the first site visits. This wall of layer upon layer of bright colored paint stood out to us. We pulled the final color palette for the brand from a selection of its splatters and using the color logic we had developed for the logo.

We also settled on the typeface Rooney by Jan Fromm for the logotype and all other aspects of the identity. Rooney is confidently built on the classical principles of older serif faces but it has the warm rounded edges that work so well with the logo and give it a very contemporary feel.

With this final color palette and typographic selection we had our final logo! MOCHA loved it and we couldn’t be happier with the process and the results.

With the launch of this brand, MOCHA has turned the page to an exciting new chapter in their history.

We are confident that MOCHA will continue to bring art into the lives of tens of thousands of kids every year and it will grow to become one of the premier arts institutions in Oakland. We feel lucky that Front Group was there to help push the organization forward at this crucial juncture. Congratulations MOCHA!