No Comments

Yo-Yos + Dolls + Tiny Tubas = Kids of All Ages

Written by in Color & Texture, Create, Features

“A Collection That Speaks for Itself”

Design Ranch of Kansas City Helps
National Toys & Miniatures Museum Find Its Voice

Spanning two years, this integrated branding and marketing campaign was unveiled August 1, 2015, with the re-opening of the National Toys & Miniatures Museum (T / m) in Kansas City. The museum’s creative team at Design Ranch hit every touch-point, from website to signage, high-end print to variable business cards. Such comprehensive projects are rare. Subject matter this inspiring is more rare.

The “Best Kept Secret” in Kansas City

Despite a world class collection, the T /m has been one of Kansas City’s ‘best-kept secrets’  for over 30 years — great for a quiet visit to the museum, but bad for sustainable income. So the T / m initiated a $9M capital campaign to redefine and relaunch the collection with an experience that could attract new audiences of every age.


To grow attendance and donor support, the museum needed a look to match the prestige of a national museum. T / m turned to Kansas City’s best/worst-kept secret, Ingred Sidie and Michelle Sonderegger and the talented team at Design Ranch.





The National Toy & Miniatures Museum

The Toy & Miniatures Museum was founded in 1982 by two friends and notable Kansas Citians: Mary Harris and Barbara Marshall. The childhood friends traveled together as they amassed their collections. For 23 years, the museum was run by a small staff with the focus on growing the collections.

“With the passing of Mary, Barbara began securing the future of the museum. Since 2006, the museum has grown dramatically. The staff has evolved to include professionals in the areas of education, interpretation, curating, and collection management.

“When the museum celebrated its 30th anniversary, they announced their official name change: The National Museum of Toys & Miniatures. With the name change, they began the process of positioning themselves for the future.

“In 2012, the museum embarked on its first public capital campaign. The campaign raised $10.73 million and the museum reopened on August 1, 2015 with new exhibits and interactive elements that feature the world’s largest collection of fine-scale miniatures and one of the nation’s largest collections of antique toys.” (From T / m Website)



For Kids From One to Ninety-Two

Design Ranch re-evaluated the strategy and brand positioning of the museum. Their goal was to design a creative messaging platform for all the T / m communications—from signage within the space to advertising on a billboard. Ingred Sidie notes, “The challenge was to capture the wonder and intrigue of visiting the museum, while highlighting two distinct collections that exist independently within the building. The new brand needed to showcase the pieces that are true works of art (the miniatures) while generating nostalgia for the large historical toy collection.”

  • DesignRanch_ToyandMini_17


Michelle Sonderegger says, “Our solution is a one-of-a-kind brand inspired by the wonder and whimsy of the museum. We honor the spirit of the founders, but we help T / m move away from the established perception that it is simply a museum for children. Our aim is to build a multi-generational audience that can sustain the long-term vision of this Kansas City institution.”

Jamie Berry, executive director at the T / m believes Design Ranch accomplished their goals. “Design Ranch provided a visual solution that drove the look and feel of the renovation and visitor experience, but also a branding scheme that will play a significant role in helping us gain new visibility for years to come.”

The good folks at Design Ranch Kansas City might be kids at heart, but their thinking and work is decidedly grown up. Against the Grain salutes them.



Creative Credits
Firm – Design Ranch –
Creative Direction – Michelle Sonderegger, Ingred Sidie
Design – Morgan Stephens, Jessica Marrak
Copywriting – Claire Gude
Photography – Darryl Bernstein
Exhibition Design – West Office Exhibition Design