Some of the hardest identity projects are for cultural institutions: Long names coupled with (or replaced by) funny-sounding acronyms, high expectations, opinionated board members and a need to appear, well, cultured. [Book recommendation: C/ID]. Dance institutions (of any style and kind) prove even harder, as there is an added layer of complexity that revolves around the inevitable desire to convey the dynamism and movement of what is being shown on stage or offered in their programming. MetaDesign (of Erik Spiekermann and Adobe packaging fame) have taken this challenge and redesigned the identity of the San Francisco Ballet with an entrechat of cropped and baseline-shifted classic Didot and contemporary Galaxie Polaris.
MetaDesign explains the logo further:
The elements of the new logo are choreographed as if on a stage: A vibrant snapshot of an energized performance. The letters are orchestrated to suggest the dynamic nature of the ballet art form, while highlighting the dramatic production lighting and shadows created on-stage through the use of a sophisticated gray color palette.
Initially I was not too convinced about the new logo; more than energized, it felt slightly constrained and harsh, and I am not a fan of lowercase t’s without the left end of their crossbar (like Kate’s). But with more extended viewing, I find this logo to be convincing in its implied dynamism and serious in its execution, giving the SF Ballet a memorable and recognizable identity that goes beyond a typesetting job of the institution’s name. Certainly a grand jeté.