When the Irvington Theater, based in the Irvington, a town just north of Manhattan, launched a rebrand about a year ago now, it caused quite a stir in the design community and it went on to win a number of design awards.
Over here at MOTHandRUST, we thought it was so great and so different. It was remarkable, a theatre identity that did not rely on imagery... We've worked with a number of theatres over the years and understand that getting imagery that is really good, representative, on time, affordable, and so on can sometimes be a bit tricky. So this could be useful as well.
1) The identity works by choosing a colour based on whether the event is theatre, music, film, comedy or dance. This colour coding would help distinguish film (greys) from theatre (blues) and so on.
2) A typeface is then chosen from a collection that consists of 52 different typefaces, to be used the title of the event.
3) A pared-down sans serif in only one weight is used for everything else. Here you can see all three elements together.
When the events are seen together, as they are above, the many typefaces are indeed an effective way of conveying diversity, variety, and range in the programming. Looks great.
4) In addition to the typefaces and colours, a third element of the design system is layering. You can see this in the image above point 3 above—lots of coloured layers on each of the postcards. This is said to be inspired from wheat paste broadsheets of the Victorian age, as seen above in a watercolour by John Orlando Parry, ”A London Street Scene” 1835. Looks REALLY great.
But can an identity work through the sheer use of colour, typography and layering? Without relying on imagery? Especially a theatre?
Well, fast forward to a year later, and sure enough, we do see imagery appearing everywhere in the brand, from the posters to the Twitter page (see above).
The only other element that does not seem to be working is the layering. We are seeing very little of this in the branding today. Not sure why this is.
It is sometimes thought that a new brand is etched in stone, but it is not. Evaluate the brand after it has been in use for some time. You can always make changes if things are not working (within reason!) In the example above, it may be that images need to be included. Note that changes to the branding should be done with guidance from the design agency, if possible.
A simple brand system, with a constrained amount of elements like the one above, is almost always best for a small company with limited resources. But just because it is simple does not mean it needs to be boring.Note that we've spelled 'theater' the American way, and also 'theatre,' the way the rest of the world spells it. A nice compromise, as everyone is happy!