Cincinnati Ballet Rebrand:
The Importance of a Clear & Stellar Visual Identity in the Arts
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Last December, I embarked on an incredible project with Cincinnati Ballet to help prepare and position them for a rebrand.
The Ballet was celebrating Artistic Director Victoria Morgan’s 20th season with the company and embracing an opportunity for strategic growth under new Executive Director Scott Altman, who joined the Ballet in August 2016.
With new leadership in place, Cincinnati Ballet had big plans to expand their presence locally and nationally and increase ticket sales and fundraising. To reach new goals, they needed to modernize their look. They brought me on to project manage their visual identity overhaul.
Cincinnati Ballet’s visual identity was inconsistent across divisions & programming and didn’t speak to the power of their artistry.
Ready, Set, Redesign:
Goals for the Cincinnati Ballet Rebrand
CB needed to create a fresh, compelling and current look — one that is reflective of the rich and exciting experience people have when they see their performances. The new visual identity also had to take into account other company programs, including dance classes in their Otto M. Budig Academy, workshops and community events. It was also important to establish a clear system for applying their brand – they were having trouble keeping their visual identity cohesive, engaging and consistent across online platforms, in print and in advertising.
Cincinnati ballet had a specific target audience in mind (if you haven’t read my recommendations yet for identifying a target audience, Find Your Forever Fans here). Their new look had to:
continued loyalty from current audience members, donors, Academy students and more
new presenters, collaborators and choreographers – and help distinguish Cincinnati Ballet as a unique and notable voice in the dance world
new audiences in Cincinnati and surrounding communities
As part of our work to prep for the redesign, we conducted surveys with the Ballet’s staff, the Board and even solicited feedback from members of the Cincinnati community who hadn’t made much of an effort to see the Ballet before.
Consensus from those who knew Cincinnati Ballet well was that the company is exciting, dynamic, beautiful, athletic and bold. Their programming choices, choreography, and events are hip, sexy, creative and cutting-edge. The company is growing. The work inspires. The beauty and athleticism go hand-in-hand, because the dancers are graceful, talented, expressive and strong.
The fear in these surveys was that the Ballet was being perceived as “boring” or “stuffy” but the reality was the opposite. (Isn’t this the fear all ballet companies have?) Now, they just needed a visual identity to support their inspiring work.
Introducing Cincinnati Ballet’s beautiful new brand.
Pretty gorgeous, huh?
Cincinnati Ballet hired local, award-winning design firm LPK to create a consistent, cohesive visual identity to bolster the company’s programming and support their plans for growth. I could not be prouder to have had a hand in the hard work, intense thoughtfulness and extreme creativity and care that went in to the Ballet’s bold new look.
Cincinnati Ballet also enlisted strategic advising from Tom Michel, Marketing and External Affairs at Ballet West. Tom is so warm and brilliant, and he has a strong history of helping to powerfully transform brands in the arts. I’m incredibly grateful to have worked with him, LPK and Cincinnati Ballet’s committed team — from planning the brand objectives to seeing it through refinements in design. Rockstars all.
Huge congrats to Cincinnati Ballet & LPK on winning gold!!
Cincinnati Ballet won Gold at the Transform Awards North America 2018 in NYC, where they won for Best Visual Identity in Travel, Leisure & Tourism!!
Cincinnati Ballet 17-18 Season Brochure, designed by Brandy Lockaby with photos by Aaron Conway.
Brand clarity and consistency are so important for nonprofits, artistic endeavors or socially conscious small businesses.
Strong branding quickly pinpoints you as credible, interesting and professional, and establishes trust and recognition over time. It sets you up as on par with the businesses you aspire to be like, while simultaneously establishing your own unique voice and mission.
I can’t wait to see how Cincinnati Ballet grows with this new look.
I strategize, consult and manage digital marketing and communications for small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. I’m based in Brooklyn, because I have a thing for exposed brick, cozy, local coffee shops and the can’t stop, won’t stop energy of New York.
Because I work with small companies, I get the chance to really know my clients – what makes them tick and how and why they should stand out in a crowded marketplace. A lot of my clients have a smaller staff, a limited budget and are already stretched thin for time. This leads us to tailor marketing strategies and solutions to each company’s unique needs and actual capacity.