Virginia War Memorial

Role: Brand Strategy | Account Management
This work was selected as the winner of a multi-team pitch

I jumped at the chance to work with the Virginia War Memorial due to my family’s deep connection with the military. The Virginia War Memorial in Richmond was dedicated in 1956, and the site is a shrine to those Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice. The names of the veterans who lost their lives in combat adorn the marble shrine that overlooks the James River. With a new education wing opening on September 11, 2019, how could our team increase visibility to welcome more visitors to this hollowed ground?

 

Team:

Andrew Allen: Strategist
Meredith Makhoul: Strategist
Zachary Vono: Experience Designer
Zachary Brown: Creative Brand Manager
Chloe Friedman: Art Director
Mitchell Moss: Copywriter

The Ask
Deliver the Virginia War Memorial updated brand guidelines and a new positioning to encourage visitation

The Challenge
Richmond has a controversial history and locals are confused about the memorial’s meaning.

The Answer
Clarify the purpose of the Virginia War Memorial and highlight its educational aspects.


IMG_9327.jpg

My Dad has always been my idol.

The fact he flew helicopters made him that much cooler.


Research

“This Doesn’t Feel Like a Place for me”

Before we began, our team set out to better understand the community’s perception of the Virginia War Memorial. We completed a competitive audit of monuments and museums around the city and compiled many man-on-the-street interviews. Our results indicated there was a lack of awareness and confusion about the purpose of the Virginia War Memorial.

Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond ,  Virginia

Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia

Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond, Virginia

Jefferson Davis Monument in Richmond, Virginia

Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia

Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia

Findings

  1. Richmond residents didn’t visit the Virginia War Memorial because they did not want to intrude on families mourning their loved ones.

  2. Memorials are less interactive and mournful considering the heavy circumstances, while museums are a place to learn and engage.

  3. People in the community were not aware of the lectures and educational aspects the VAWM offered.

  4. Without a central and unifying message, a portion of Richmond locals thought the VAWM was an ode to the confederacy.


The new wing being constructed presented us with an opportunity to identify a central purpose for the Virginia War Memorial. We now had the chance to give the memorial a clear and unifying message that the public could easily understand.

Whatever recommendations we presented to the Virginia War Memorial had to strike a balance moving forward. The space had to be informative but not boring. It must be welcoming and not somber. All of our activations need to highlight that the Virginia War Memorial was more than a place to mourn, but a place to appreciate and learn more about our veterans.

To begin we presented the board with a name change in conjunction with an updated and more modern logo that used the VAWM’s custom typeface.

Left: previous branding, Right: updated branding

Left: previous branding, Right: updated branding

The Virginia War Memorial & Museum


Insight

While we may not agree on the purpose of war, nearly everyone we spoke with has had a connection with someone who fought for our freedom.

And just like we respect those who go overseas, we all mourn their loss when they don’t come home.

STRATEGY

The Virginia War Memorial & Museum unifies us in remembrance.


How do we do it?

We wanted all of our executions to highlight the purpose of the Virginia War Memorial & Museum and create some distance from the controversial Confederate monuments in Richmond, Virginia. Everything we proposed had to deliver clarity around the memorial's purpose.


Virginia War Memorial Deck.016.jpeg

Utilizing space more effectively.

One way we achieved this was by using the unoccupied green space in front of the site. We recommended we display World War II or Vietnam era style aircraft like the P-52 Mustang. We knew this would create an association with the modern military and disassociate with the Civil War. We proposed to strategically place the vintage aircraft facing Belvidere where there is constant traffic.

Virginia War Memorial Deck.015.jpeg

Branded Crosswalk

We recommended adding a branded crosswalk to the very busy intersection in front of the memorial. This was a low-cost execution that promotes pedestrian safety and would be a creative way to put the new Virginia War Memorial & Museum branding on display.


augmented Reality

What is truly amazing about the Virginia War Memorial is their docents served in the military. They are guides that can speak on every artifact in the educational museum but their stories add a rich layer of depth to static displays. We wanted to figure out a way that we could bring these stories to life digitally.


Our team developed an AR application that would display the history of the names on the wall of the shrine. Using the camera of a tablet, we could highlight the desired name on the wall and their story would be revealed. This story would include when they were born, when did they serve, their story, and casualty date, This AR app is an easy way to integrate technology as well as bring the voices of the greatest generation to life.

Initial screens of our Virginia War Memorial & Museum Augmented Reality application

A notional screen displaying the wall of names on the VAWMM’s website

A notional screen displaying the wall of names on the VAWMM’s website

Using augmented reality to help tell the story of some of Virginia’s fallen soldiers

Using augmented reality to help tell the story of some of Virginia’s fallen soldiers

Summary

In my time at the VCU Brandcenter, I have had the chance to work with some amazing clients. The work we did with the Virginia War Memorial is by far the most fulfilling. I am thankful not only to have had the opportunity to deliver such meaningful work, but also collaborate with the Virginia War Memorial board to bring these ideas to life.

Brand Manager: Zach Brown

Strategist: Andrew Allen

Strategist: Meredith Mekhoul

Copywriter: Mitchell Moss

Art Director: Chloe Friedman

Experience Designer: Zak Vono