We overhauled the visuals and messaging for the National Museum of African American Music.


We partnered with our friends at One of One Design to update the visuals. The DENOR team was solely responsible for refreshing the messaging, including a new vision and mission statement, a new tagline, renaming the museum’s capital campaign, renaming its annual fundraising efforts, renaming several programs, and adjusting the way in which the Museum spoke about itself.

The Museum wanted to refresh its look. The organization’s leaders wanted to update its visual brand identity so that it would look more ‘vibrant,’ ‘modern,’ ‘bold,’ and ‘energetic.’ For the visuals, Museum leaders wanted to capture the excitement of the project – without necessarily looking like a traditional museum –  and also stay true to its roots in music.

To the right is a before and after comparison of the Museum’s logo.

The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), set to open in 2019, will provide the compelling story of how African Americans contributed their musical gifts to help create the American Soundtrack.

For the messaging, we incorporated the American Soundtrack as an overarching theme. All of its primary messaging has been shifted to support this narrative. Additionally, we added  a Why Nashville? story element to answer the question of why Nashville is appropriate for a museum of this magnitude. This element details Music City is THE place for the Museum and elaborates on how and why the city and the state of Tennessee have contributed to the local, regional, and national music scene.

We went through several iterations before we landed on a final design. We were diligent in our research to ensure we produced a concept that not only aligned with our new, updated messaging, but one that also satisfied the needs and wants of the Museum’s leadership team.

Below is a sampling of some of the custom brand boards produced to help guide our respective teams to a final logo mark.

We retooled the Museum’s vision and mission.

The mission and vision are two of the most important elements of any organization. The mission highlights what an organization does and what it stands for; it is the single cause or belief that drives the organization forward, while the vision serves as an aspirational guide for what the organization hopes to accomplish in the future. These elements are the motivational, inspirational, and practical forces that guide an organization’s actions. It was imperative that we refined these two components in a way that streamlined the message and accurately reflected the Museum’s vision and intent.

We created custom brand workshops and workbooks to retool and clarify the Museum’s messaging. One area in which the new messaging is most prominent is the vision and mission. Below is a look at the former vision and mission statements as well as the updated vision and mission statements.

Old Vision & Mission

Mission: The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) educates the world, preserves the legacy and celebrates the contributions of African Americans and the role they play in creating and shaping the soundtrack of American life.

Vision: The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) is the premier place where fans, students and tourists globally go to be engaged, informed and inspired with respect to the origins of American music forms.

New Vision & Mission

Mission: To educate the world, preserve the legacy, and celebrate the central role African Americans play in creating the American Soundtrack.

Vision: The National Museum of African American Music is the premier global destination for music lovers of all generations that engages, inspires, entertains, and transforms your appreciation of American music.

We retooled the some of the Museum’s key program and fundraising messages.

In addition to retooling the overall message, we renamed a few programs.


We renamed the Seasonal Masterclass Series program, which is an opportunity for aspiring adult vocalists and musicians to learn from professionals who have excelled in their genre in the music industry, to Fine Tuning: A Masterclass Series. To the left is a flyer to advertise a recent Fine Tuning workshop.


We also renamed Coffee & Conversations, which is a one-on-one interview with an African American artist whose story behind the music is often untold, to the Musician’s Studio.


We also streamlined the message around the year-end and fiscal-end fundraising efforts. Instead of having two separate campaigns for the end of the calendar year and one for the end of the Museum’s fiscal year, we collapsed the efforts to create the My Music Matters annual fundraising campaign. The name coincides with the Museum’s annual My Music Matters: A Celebration of Legends Luncheon. It also allows for an annual theme around the Museum’s core interests, including legacy, preservation, history, celebration, and other themes. For example, the Museum’s theme for its annual My Music Matters campaign in 2050 could be Legacy Matters; in 2030 it could be History Matters; in 2020, the theme could be Celebration Matters; and so on.

We updated the capital campaign message.

The Museum had previously launched the Rhapsody-n-Rhythm Campaign with a goal of raising $25 million for construction, endowment and initial operations. The campaign’s call-to-action was ‘Be A Part of the Rhythm!”

We revamped the message and visuals around the capital campaign. Its new name is ‘Write the Score.’

Below are two renderings of how the Museum will look once it is built.

The capital campaign is the effort to pay for the structure to house the Museum.

The Museum will be situated as an anchor tenant within 50,000 square feet of the Fifth + Broad development in downtown Nashville. Visitors of this space will experience the Rivers of Rhythm Pathway where they will be taken from the beginnings of American music with Southern religious and blues traditions to the most impactful hip-hop and Rhythm & Blues. It will showcase how many of today’s most renowned artists, such as Beyonce and Justin Timberlake, are connected to the traditions born out of the African American experience, with captivating scenes and quotes from the last century. From the Fisk Jubilee Singers to Jimi Hendrix to the TSU Aristocrat of Bands, the Museum’s interactive galleries will highlight Nashville’s profound influence on the music industry and share how others around the world are inspired by it.

Below is a sample of the messaging and one of the visuals for the ‘Write the Score‘ campaign. Our design friends at Brand Lamb helped us to develop this visual.

We’re honored to have worked with the National Museum of African American Music.