Reimagining Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston’s rebrand brings people and space closer together for a new era of exploration.
Very few things activate the human imagination quite like space. That imagination, along with ambition, courage and ingenuity, was what first realized the dream of spaceflight just 60 years ago—transforming space from a thing of distant wonder to a real place of possibility.
When it opened in 1992, Space Center Houston was designed to tell the story of human spaceflight and be the public’s entry point into space exploration. It remains the official visitor center for NASA Johnson Space Center, home of mission control—the “Houston” notified when there is a problem or when eagles have landed. Its name holds a monumental place in the story of human achievement, a story that is ongoing and poised for more giant leaps in the years ahead.
Space has since become an industry, a new world with new players, public and private, a frontier that is far from final. And as Space Center Houston planned their future as the threshold into a new space age, they knew that future would start with a rebrand—the first in their history—a sweeping effort for which Traina was chosen as partner.
Vision of the Future
The identity and strategy work Traina produced inform and enliven a brand anthem video produced by Houston’s Vision Production Group. The spot captures the history of Space Center Houston and debuts the center’s grand plans for future expansion.
Moving beyond a museum
Over the course of three decades, the perception of Space Center Houston had become that of a tourist attraction solely focused on the past. This perception belied the plans ahead: expanding partnerships beyond NASA and building vast, immersive training facilities that simulated terrains of the Moon and Mars. Knowing all that was ahead, it was clear to both the Traina and Space Center Houston teams that moving beyond the past and setting sights on the future was the primary brand goal.
Together we knew that the best era of space exploration lies ahead, in a more accessible and inclusive future of science and technology, the prospect of space tourism and journeys back to the moon and then on to Mars. Space Center Houston would be a hub in all this activity, a connector of private companies and NASA alike, and above all, for the public—the starting point for every person to engage with space. From this grand vision, we guided the center to a concise yet resonant brand purpose: To bring people and space closer together.
Around this purpose an ideology was developed, brand architecture was organized and market positioning was defined, galvanizing the center’s teams and outside stakeholders with a set direction—to become the leading institution in the ever-expanding universe of space exploration.
The most visible and immediate element of the new Space Center Houston is its logo: both in text treatment and the center’s iconic new image mark. Sweeping oblique forms evoke a dynamic galaxy and the letter S, while the star at its core pays homage to the center’s heritage identity.
The text treatment is a bold stack that lends the center equal footing when used in conjunction with other organizations. Partnership is key to Space Center Houston’s future—from its longstanding relationship with NASA to industry newcomers like SpaceX and Blue Origin. The new brand was designed to have the strength to hold up beside them and stand on its own with distinction.
A bespoke palette of custom brand colors was assembled and named for the celestial references they express. Iridescent accents further evoke the cosmos on business cards or promotional materials.
Underlying the Space Center Houston brand is a geometric grid that serves as a foundation and wellspring for an expansive visual system. A variety of forms offer a vast library of shapes and patterns to use throughout the brand architecture, lending a cohesive and dynamic energy to all manner of brand applications—from social media stories to the large-scale prominence of a billboard.
A design system that scales
The shape system becomes encasements and layering elements to give a sense of depth from afar or up close.
A suite of monoline icons are built on a similar grid for consistency and ease of expansion across the center’s brand offerings.
Image guidelines detail the use and treatment of scenic space shots, emotive close-ups of visitors, and textural elements that altogether define an aesthetic of energy, emotion, wonder, and the humanity of Space Center Houston.
A distinctive brand color palette and complementary typefaces work together in composing their refreshed website and brand expressions on social media channels. Print materials employ the brand system in correlated shapes that unify and beautify, presenting a coherent and engaging experience for brochures and collateral material.
Launching the future
As part of launch planning, Traina provided go-to-market strategies and internal rollout presentations, and was on-site this fall for the public brand launch—a massive media event that debuted the extensive plans ahead and kicked off a capital campaign to support growth.
Throughout the project, the strategic and creative relationship with Space Center Houston fostered a remarkable degree of trust and made Traina truly an extension of the center’s internal team. We have since been engaged in collaborations with the experience company Thinkwell on integrating the system into physical wayfinding and exploring how the brand will inform everything from merchandise to reimagined exhibits.