Steppenwolf Theatre faced a critical juncture in its growth. The company is well-known on a national level but faced apathy from its hometown. Theatres everywhere face a lack of engagement from Gen-Xers and Millennials as restaurant spaces enjoy a boom. The client tasked our team at Grip with several challenges to help them redefine their future trajectory and relevance:
- Solidify core brand values and promises.
- Redesign the visual aesthetics and create key messaging based on brand values.
- Tap into a younger audience.
- Show how the company has evolved through diversity and expanded options for ticketing options, show frequency and entertainment experience.
The company shared a strategic vision for the physical location of the theatre campus. We helped them discover a fun, raw and honest tone of voice they didn’t know they had. A flexible brand toolkit would be needed to carry this new tone through traditional, social media and video. A gradual rollout of the campaign, materials and smaller projects allowed them to test, gain confidence and grow into their new aesthetic.
Why this project?
Working on an iconic cultural institution is always a gift. I was tasked with winning new work, spearheading client management, and keeping the projects on task through the development and rollout period. We garnered media mentions for the work and advised the Steppenwolf team on every aspect of the strategic positioning. Helping a cultural institution enter the hospitality industry while evolving its brand promise to a new space was thrilling.
Recent research had provided data that could be leveraged. We dove into a deep discovery process with the data and in-person interviews of constituents (audience members, non-audience members, staff, donors, ensemble members, and partners). From that information we gleaned audience insights, defined core values/vision/purpose statements, and suggested a new membership model that addressed flexibility and spontaneity. We branded a coffee and bar experience that brought the community into the space, allowing opportunities to rub elbows with the talent as well as prolonged engagement with the space. The copy and design was carried through all materials and ongoing initiatives.
Font Bar has been a hub of activity for the physical community and the arts.
The brand has been executed in print, digital media, social, video and signage.
My role at Grip
Internal/External team lead
Main client contact
Interior design team liaison
New business development
Discovery & research
Strategy & design review
Lead kickoffs, creative team briefs, presentations
4 months membership campaign
5 months for cafe/bar experience
6 months for discovery, rebrand and rollout of the new brand