Established in 1981 (I think, it wasn’t clear, but that’s the date assigned to the first artistic director), Sheffield Theatres is a group of three theaters in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England. Located in the same block, the three theaters provide unique experiences: The Crucible is a modern theater built in 1971; the Lyceum, a classic theater originally built in 1897 and rebuilt in 1991; and the Studio, a small black box venue. Together, they present a range of productions, including touring blockbusters, classic dramas, and in-house-created plays. Welcoming over 400,000 people each year, Sheffield Theatres is the largest regional theatre complex outside London. Earlier this year, they introduced a new identity designed by local firm Cafeteria.
We started with the big idea of ‘A world of brilliant theatre where everyone is welcome’. This idea is defined by three core pillars: the unique experience live theatre provides, the skill and passion that goes into the work they produce, and the communities that are built around creating and enjoying theatre.
The values of the brand shape how it looks and how it behaves — bold, fun, exciting and engaging. We made a brand to entertain, inspire, enlighten and challenge. A brand that brings excitement, magic and emotion. A brand that is proud and warm and welcomes everyone. A brand with a simple promise of ‘a good night out’.
The strength of the new brand is in its assertiveness. Bold typography, vivid colour, and a distinct graphic flourish evoke the emotion and experience of live theatre. No matter where the logo appears it carries the passion and pride Sheffield Theatres wants to be recognised for.
The old logo wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either — a fairly typical, decent-looking regional theater kind of logo. The three circles in the icon aptly represented the three theaters but it had a little too much lowercase all around and some hierarchy problems as everything read the same. The new logo places full emphasis on the organization with a big, bold, shouty wordmark that features a nicely framed exclamation point replacing the name’s only “i”. It’s certainly not the first time anyone has turned an “i” into an exclamation point but the execution here is particularly good since the “i” would be the only lowercase letter among the rest of the uppercase letters, making it stand out even more. The full justified lock-up of the two words is nice and tight with some extremely pleasant alignment of letters on the top and bottom lines — “SHE” and “THE”, “LD” and “ES”, with the middle letters filling in the gaps perfectly. For theater-specific logos, the hierarchy is much better than in the previous logo, making it clear that it’s the organization first, the venues second. The sub-brands for different initiatives and calls to action start to border on the too-cute with the exclamation point but it makes sense to go there.
The institutional materials are pretty nice, with the big logo and wide-yet-limited color palette — I think I would have liked to see more combos like the red and yellow instead of the other tone-on-tones.
Show publicity is designed to be versatile and dynamic. Emphasis can be given to a well known title or to an expressive lead image that conveys the nature of the production. The layout is responsive, always finding the right balance of content.
It was important for show publicity and the brand to feel integrated. Typography helps connect the show with the brand and colour allows the brand to embrace the look and feel of the show. This flexibility in the design allows every show to be distinct but ensures that homegrown Sheffield Theatres Productions are uniquely recognisable.
The posters have a great, simple structure with all the show titles in the same typeface — Anton, freely available on Google Fonts — and a flexible area for show graphics, which can take on any style needed. Here we do get some more interesting color combinations than tone-on-tone so I’m satisfied. The typography and thick framing of the posters do a solid job in creating consistency and recognizability for all Sheffield Theatres productions.
Overall, this has a good energy, it’s clear, it’s on brand, and it allows the organization to present the myriad genres of its productions in a consistent system that stands out in the streets.