Tuesday, September 4, 2012

IFI20: From IFC to IFI

I remember there was a public pay phone outside my office. I'd listen out for how people referred to their location. Gradually they started to refer to the IFI rather than the IFC. This is how I knew the rebranding from IFC/FII to IFI had finally worked.

The Irish Film Institute (IFI) A.D. 2012

When I became Director of the IFI I thought its multiple identities of IFC, FII and Irish Film Archive diluted its potential. Specifically, the splintered identity didn't help is claim to being a national arts institute rather than an arts centre in Dublin's Temple Bar. Having just moved-up from Munster, I was particularly conscious of the need to put meat into this claim to a 'national' status. 

Irish Film Centre

So, first there was the matter of the various names. In business it's called brand management but really it's all about identity, not just logos. Having a coherent and consistent identity obviously matters in an environment where you compete for the attention of your audience.

The re-branding of the now IFI was a relatively minor event for us. We were more focused on building a capital refurbishment budget, making a claim on national status and building an international role. Yet, as I recall it, the internal debate was lively enough. The re-branding coincided with some funding cuts. Some colleagues were also very attached to the IFC. I was told that the name IFI would never catch on. In fact, the issue of being confused with Irish Fertilizer Industries was offered as one of the main reasons it would not work. Much like the trepidation that Carmaker Datsun or the makers of the Marathon bar must have once felt, the risks were looming large for some. 

IFC and IFI Programme Covers

In fact, the rebranding exercise was a sort proxy debate born-out of the way in which the establishment of the IFC as a subsidiary of the Film Institute of Ireland had been realised a decade earlier. No doubt the end justified the means but there was a legacy born of it. 

Anyhow, my old colleague Glenn Hogarty delivered an excellent new logo for the newly established IFI. I think it cost about €500. I can now appreciate quite how cost effective this was! 

Today the IFI looks better than ever. The refurbished complex is superb, it has a great location and a loyal and professional team behind it. So congratulations to everyone involved and here's to another 20 years success.

Mark Mulqueen
Former IFI Director (2001 - 2007)

Celebrating 20 years at our premises on Eustace Street in Temple Bar, join us for a host of special events, screenings, previews, tours (many of them free!) and the IFI Open Weekend in September - see full IFI20 Schedule online or follow our updates on Twitter via #IFI20

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