Center Theatre Group is one of the leading theatre companies in the country, inviting over 650,000 people each year to experience the biggest and best of Broadway at the Ahmanson Theatre, timeless classics at the Mark Taper Forum, and the most innovative new works in the field at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. We have been thrilled to play a role in Center Theatre Group’s evolution at key moments throughout the past ten years, helping to establish brand awareness among a variety of audiences, and to define and communicate the organization’s unique impact.
As it approached its 50th Anniversary, Center Theatre Group faced a singular opportunity to rethink and refresh its story and visual identity, as well as those of its three theatres. A key objective for the project was to shift Center Theatre Group from a hierarchical “umbrella brand”—presiding over its theatres—to one in which the identities of the Ahmanson, Taper, and Douglas enhance that of the organization overall… and vice versa.
A series of work sessions with organizational leadership—as well as thorough research with current and potential audiences—built the foundation for a comprehensive insight-driven, impact-focused positioning strategy.
We first defined the unique position of each of the theatres: the Ahmanson as magical destination where theatre is more than a show—it’s an event; the Taper as a forum for transformative ideas that spark conversations; and the Douglas as an all-encompassing experience, where post-show activities and cocktails are as much as a part of the show as what’s on stage.
We then identified the overall position of Center Theatre Group, which is rooted in the reciprocal and vital relationship between the organization, its three theaters, and its diverse array of significant education and community programs: Theatre at the Center of it all. In addition to making a playful reference to the Center Theatre Group name, the statement alludes to the organization’s belief in the essential power and necessity of theatre.
Following the strategy process, our design team began to develop a visual identity system that would allow each theatre—and Center Theatre Group overall—to feel distinct, while still retaining a relationship and a sense of consistency.
The inspiration for the new identity system came from theatre itself, and its ever-present contrasts: between comedy and drama, light and dark, offstage and center stage. Of particular interest was the contrast between the hidden and the visible, and the fact that much of what audiences see on stage is only a small piece of what goes on behind the curtain. By isolating and cropping key components of the design, each of the logos becomes a dynamic interpretation of the stage, as seen from different perspectives. Bold typography and a bright, fun, yet contrasting color palette gives the identities a new and striking feel—and allows them to appear distinct, while still remaining in the same family.
Once the new identity system was complete, an array of graphic elements and colors were established in a set of guidelines to activate the brand across a variety of different channels, from on-site collateral to advertising to social media.
Center Theatre Group’s refreshed brand was unveiled on May 26, 2016. The new strategy and visual identity is fresh and bold, establishing a vital new relationship between the organization and its theatres, and symbolizing an exciting new chapter for the organization as it embarks upon its 50th Anniversary Season.