With an impressive history (dating back to 1894), West Cliff Theatre is situated at a popular seaside resort and attracts a huge variety of acts and performances to its classic auditorium. With so much going for it however, the Theatre’s previous identity was outdated and did little to reflect any of these unique qualities.
So when I was approached to redesign the Theatre’s quarterly ‘What’s On’ brochure, it was clear that we’d need to begin with a complete brand overhaul; to bring the Theatre’s visual identity up-to-date and project the right image to appeal to audiences old and new.
The key objective of the rebrand was to visually convey the Theatre’s rich heritage, whilst also bringing the identity up-to-date; reflecting the team’s commitment to entertaining audiences with a healthy mix of classic and contemporary acts.
The client had also told me that West Cliff Theatre often got mixed up with The Cliffs Pavilion in nearby Southend, so we decided that bringing Clacton-on-Sea into the main identity would help distinguish West Cliff Theatre and alleviate this problem.
Having researched the visual language of the field and the Theatre’s main competitors, I began sketching new, original ideas for the Theatre’s new brand identity – focusing on a theatrical theme with a seaside twist, drawing on the Theatre’s popular locality to the seaside.
I then worked up concepts that showed potential for further development on screen, with plenty of time spent experimenting with fonts and layouts to find the best possible combinations, see fig. 2. The one pre-requisite was to base the new colour palette on the distinctive colours of the Theatre’s interior, which had somehow been lost in the previous visual identity. Rich burgundy and gold were reinstated, bringing a sense of theatrical heritage and classic appeal.
Each concept was endorsed with the addition of a new strap line – using a hand-written font to add a tone of informality – the message conveying the friendly reception enjoyed by audiences old and new.
THE NEW BRAND
The client quickly decided on option three as their chosen route, and having listened carefully to their feedback I began developing this further, working through several stages of revisions to get the final logo just right and providing examples as to how this might work when rolled out over the Theatre’s overall marketing collateral.
The thinking behind the chosen logo is that by featuring a combination of traditional serif, with contemporary sans-serif typography, we reflect both the past and future vision of the Theatre. The swirling graphic above the word mark conveys an ambiguous sense of art / theatre whilst alluding to waves, linking to the seaside locality.
Then, through the various stage of logo development, this graphic evolved as I incorporated elements of the Theatre’s distinctive architecture into the graphic, to strengthen the sense of brand ownership.
The end result is a flexible brand identity (see fig. 3), featuring a distinctive word-mark that is complemented by a meaningful graphic emblem, which in time can be used in isolation as the identity becomes better known.
ROLL-OUT OVER THE THEATRE PROGRAMME DESIGN
The identity was unveiled to the public at the end of March 2015, with the release of the new Summer brochure, which features not only the Theatre’s new logo, but also a new visual system throughout to help customers easily digest the information at a glance:
• The footer of each page features box-office and online details for easy booking reference.
• A new colour code system, established in the new contents page, complements the new brand colour palette and helps customers to easily see what category each show falls under.
• Each performance feature is signed-off with essential show information, to save them looking elsewhere before booking.
Finally, the design is strongly branded, not only with colours / fonts from the new visual identity, but also with elements taken from the main logo, e.g graphic detail in the footer / front cover graphics and watermark within the cover header. This ensures complete brand ownership presents a strong visual identity, which customers can easily recognise.