Congratulations to the Sydney Symphony Orchestra!

Yesterday (which is to say, almost tomorrow in Australia), the Sydney Symphony Orchestra announced their new season and officially rolled out their new brand system––a six-month intercontinental collaboration.

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The SSO is a successful, vibrant organiz(s)ation. It has weathered the global financial downturn and concurrent planetary downturn in arts attendance better than many; it is pursuing opportunities across Asia; and it has a new Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, David Robertson, who also holds down the podium in Saint Louis.

But to continue on its upward trajectory, the SSO, like most orchestras, still has some work to do to attract and retain concert attendees (particularly younger people), be positioned as a strategic investment for partners and sponsors, bolster individual giving, and ensure that its brand meaning is advancing these efforts. It competes in these areas with other cultural institutions in town (Sydney is an animated cultural environment), the brands of the talent who visit Australia’s shores, and even with the brand of its primary performance space––the iconic Sydney Opera House.

And while the SSO is very much a dynamic, passionate, inspiring organiz(s)ation––with international stature and a warm and welcoming spirit––these qualities were not necessarily known or internaliz(s)ed by those whose interest and support are critical to the SSO’s continuing success. Nor did the SSO always “get credit” for its wide range of musical, educational, and community endeavors––credit that will positively influence constituents’ thought and actions.

Across non-intersecting business days, and with no small amount of time travel(l)ing in ai(e)r(o)planes, we collaborated with a core leadership team led by Mark Elliott, Director of Sales and Marketing, and a wider, cross-functional brand council, to first clarify, and then articulate a new, confident, compelling brand.

Together, we

  • crafted a new position that will build a deeper connection with––and ownership of––the Orchestra by its diverse constituencies;
  • refined and finaliz(s)ed a set of brand attributes that inform how all write, speak, and design on behalf of the SSO;
  • developed a shared messaging framework that all can draw upon to advance the organiz(s)ation verbally––formally and informally;
  • put in place a new brand architecture that will help different constituents to find their point of connection with the SSO (and help the organiz(s)ation to get credit for all its diverse efforts); and
  • evolved a new visual system that encourages the creative development of communications that will do their tactical jobs well and always reinforce what the SSO needs to mean to constituents.

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The new identifier puts the “O” back in Sydney Symphony Orchestra, restoring the group’s original and enthusiastically welcomed-back name. The new symbol reinforces key brand attributes and begins to tell the Orchestra’s story.

It’s an abstract expression of both musicians and audience. Musicians fan out from the podium, each a contributor to the experience, each connected to one another under the baton of David Robertson to create dynamic, memorable performances. The audience––exuberant and enthusiastic––is engaged in the shared experience of live music unfolding.

The colo(u)rs of the identifier further reinforce desired meaning by communicating the passion and warmth that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra brings to all its endeavors.

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The new subscription pieces, hot off the press, herald the arrival of David Robertson as Chief Conductor and Artistic Director; offer a simplified structure to help subscribers find (and sign up for) a series that best matches their passions (or configure their own custom series); and takes every opportunity to personaliz(s)e the Orchestra and to build deeper connections with constituents. From the subtitle on the cover––“Your 2014 season”––to black-and-white images of musicians back stage rosining bows, cleaning valves, marking scores, and straightening bowties, the books work to remove the fourth wall and bring musicians and audience closer together.

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Whether they’re created to support marketing, fundraising, or education, all communications are now informed by a common visual system: approaches to type, colo(u)r, imagery, and composition build equity across all communication opportunities and provide the flexibility needed to tune communications for specific initiatives and audiences.

So, congratulations, and curtains up! We’re confident that the introduction of your new season, new Chief Conductor, and new brand system will raise the visibility and value of all three––and help the SSO to successfully build on all it has accomplished.

In the months since we got started on this valuable project, our team has met koalas, learned to order coffee in ways foreign to domestic Starbucks baristi, and have made new client-friends halfway around the world.

(And, of course, it’s always exciting to learn what’s happening tomorrow… today.)