Steppenwolf Theatre faced a critical juncture in its growth. The company is well-known on a national level but faced apathy from its local community. Theatre faces a lack of engagement from Gen-Xers and younger as food and drink spaces enjoy a boom. The client tasked us 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.
- Figure out how to win over younger audience goers.
Show how the company has evolved through diversity and expanded options for ticketing, showtimes and entertainment experiences.
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 could share. A flexible brand toolkit would be needed to carry them through traditional, social media and video areas. 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 spearheading client management, winning new work and keeping the projects on task through the entire 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 the new space was a unique experience and thrilling to watch.
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.
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
Steppenwolf Theatre motion graphics