Spotlight on the issues

Branding projects are always interesting and one of our favourite kinds of assignments because we get to meld graphic design with the values, purpose, and personality of an organization. As a design team, the exercise really gets us thinking, hashing out ideas, and interacting with each other. Some of the best solutions, initiatives, and ideas emerge from a collective of varying viewpoints and experiences. And that’s exactly what Downstage Theatre is all about.

Downstage is a Calgary-based company dedicated to producing Canadian theatre that impels conversation around social issues. Its work provokes vibrant dialogue, both at the water cooler of every day life, and more formally, through their post-show discussions.

Entering into its 11th season, the company’s success was beginning to outgrow its original branding. Already attracting a wide-ranging following of people, many of whom are socially engaged and interested in provocative experiences, the goal was to further broaden the audience to reflect the full diversity of Calgary — to create a brand that works to reinforce the inclusive, welcoming, and safe environment that is Downstage. Another challenge was to illustrate that the company is more than simply theatre, which is not fully reflected by the company name.

We set out to do just that by firstly summing up the company in just a few words: theatre, interaction, discussion, welcoming, social issues, quality. Ideas started rolling in from there.

The mark is a combination of the two main aspects of the Downstage experience: theatre, portrayed by stage light circles; and discourse, portrayed by a speech bubble. Each of the three circles is a unique and playful colour, signifying differing perspectives and the ease associated with sharing them.

The end result is a brand that is light and inviting, balancing out the potential weightiness of some of the issues being presented. Not too serious and institutional and, by no means, depreciating the issues. Welcome to Downstage Theatre.