Utrecht City Theatre is a leading theatre in Utrecht and the central Netherlands. It is a place where artistic quality, cultural and community engagement, passion, adventure and skill come together.
As a visitor, you want to be surprised, touched, made to laugh, or inspired to think. As a performer, you want to achieve that with the audience. Excitement, emotion and reflection are what drove our development of a custom typeface and logo.
The theatre wants to appeal to a wide-ranging audience: visitors, performers and employees.
Key brand values
Excitement, emotion and reflection
Directly, it’s all other theatres in Utrecht and its region: about 8 other theatres. Indirectly, it’s also all other leisure possibilities for the audience in the region, like movie theatres, music halls, museums, etc.
Aims for brand design
The client wanted a distinctive, appealing new logo and identity system that would be flexible and easy to use, also for the inhouse designer. The brand identity would have to radiate the key brand values.
The development process
The designers at Edenspiekermann started by verbally and visually exploring the keywords ‘emotion’ and ‘reflection’. They found both literal and associative meanings in these words through their explorations (see various visual sketches) and explored ways to bring them together in one, all-encompassing visual concept. Fairly soon in the sketching process, one of the designers came up with the idea of flipping the name upside down (reflection) and overlapping it with the original. In all-caps, this interplay of letter shapes gave a wonderful, scintillating effect (emotion) and a nice kind of casual coincidence. It seemed to directly communicate what the theatre wants to achieve: to stage a memorable encounter between artists and audience.
After discovering this main typographic concept, it took us another half year of searching for the right typeface, color palette and technical detailing to get it just right. The concept was pre-tested with an online panel of more than 1000 people from the greater Utrecht area where we learned that people either loved it or hated it. Fortunately, the director of the theatre immediately understood that this was a good thing, because it meant people would talk about it and have an opinion about it. And that’s exactly what you want to achieve as a cultural institution for the community, right?
The vision of the Utrecht City Theatre is reflected in the new appearance and underlines its artistic quality as well as its cultural and social engagement. The word mark, interwoven with itself, imparts a confrontation with the unexpected – its edgy play of letters positions the theatre as challenging and up to present time.
The corporate design also allows for much inspiration and reflects, with the aid of typographics and colouring, the zeitgeist of the theatre architecture.
How the brand lives in the environment and communicates with the public
Every year, the Utrecht City Theatre and Edenspiekermann invite a guest artist – photographer or illustrator – to develop a series of images that react on the two brand identity keywords ‘reflective’ and ‘scintillating’.
For the 2010/2011 cultural season, we invited Dutch photographer Gerrit Schreurs to create a series of images that would enrich the visual identity of the theatre during the upcoming year. These images are used in the season programme booklet as dividing pages between the various programme themes. And they are combined by the artist into collages in the outdoor and online campaign that introduce the new cultural season.
For the 2011/2012 cultural season we selected illustrator and photographer Krista van der Niet to create a series of highly personal and witty photographic illustrations for the different programme themes and for the introductory campaign.
The Utrecht City Theatre identity design won several prizes since its launch in the summer of 2009. Among them are a Red Dot Award (2009), a European Design Award (2010) and a D&AD Award (2010). This year, we’re nominated for the prestigious German Design Awards 2012.
Lucia Claus (director), Ab Hooijer & Saskia Oldenburg (marketing communications)
Creative direction: Edo van Dijk
Online creative direction: Flip Wegner
Lead designer: Earik Wiersma
Art direction (campaigns): Marieke Griffioen
Graphic design: Carmen Nutbey, Hannah Manneke, Jenny Labaar, Titia Schoenaker
Spatial design: Arjan van Zeumeren, Jan Dirk Porsius
Illustrators: Gerrit Schreurs, Krista van der Niet