Royal Family is a creative and story-driven theatre company located just steps off of Times Square in New York city. Like most scrappy theatre companies, they are strapped for cash, but rich in creativity with a strong network of writers, actors, designers and the like. They are also on the cusp of growing from an independent upstart of a company to a more established and respected voice among the New York theatre crowd.
Prior to my working with them, Royal Family's branding toolkit was a collection of assets from multiple designers that was built up over the years on an as-needed basis.
I see this a lot with young companies who, when starting out, don't particularly have the marketing budget or the staff to strategically plan long-term branding efforts. But as businesses grow, it's important to start defining your brand and to develop communication parameters that you can pass along to your internal teams, marketers, and publicity.
What's in a name?
When I started working with Royal Family they were sometimes using "RF" or sometimes "RFP" in their materials to refer to their company. I asked them to refrain from any such use going forward. It's rare for ANY company to have such recognition that they can rely on abbreviations in their branding. And although it's tempting to use abbreviations in longer copy where the name is used repetitively, we still think it's better to state you full name, or to revise long-form copy so the name is restated less frequently.
The other change I made was to revise the use of "ROYAL FAMILY PRODUCTIONS" to just "ROYAL FAMILY". Shortening a name can help considerably when designing marketing materials, but more importantly for Royal Family, dropping "productions" helped re-emphasize their educational and artist development programs, while also offering up the flexibility to tout future non-production related activities.
In the performance world, the relationship of a production company to it's shows is akin to the relationship of a director to a film. Most marketing materials produced are created to promote a specific show, but there will always be significant percentage of the audience that will buy tickets specifically because they are fans of the theatre company's work. Considering this, I think it's important for theatre companies to keep their core brand present when marketing individual shows.
For Royal Family, I developed a modification to the font "Gotham" that essentially removes any "eyes" or "bowls" from each letter in the alphabet.
This allows the Royal Family logo to stand out among brands that also employ bold heavy-weighted font treatments.
I also established this font treatment across their show marketing also, to help unify and tie the marketing for each show back to the Royal Family brand. This was very successful in Royal Family's marketing materials for their recent production of LOVE/SICK.
Royal Family had been restricting themselves to a very limited palette of black and green. This color choice was very limiting and felt heavy and a little dated. My general recommendation is to explore new color combinations for each show and we strive to select colors that are fresh, modern and inviting while fitting into the color story that we are telling at any given time. Any long term branding strategy needs to leave room for exploration and evolution and we anticipate Royal Family's colors and textures to evolve over time.
For the Royal Family website I established a range of neutrals and blues that are flexible enough to work with varying color combinations - and and are currently integrating the Royal Family font throughout their site.