Ninety years in the making, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago is unveiling a new brand. Developed by branding partners, Pause for Thought, a New York-based branding agency, and The Change Project, based in San Francisco, the new Adler identity is the culmination of a multi-year transformation aiming to make science more accessible to everyone. Max Adler founded the Adler Planetarium in 1930 with the “hope that the youth of our city… may find new interests and fresh inspiration and also that with the aid of the Planetarium, science may be advanced.”
The visual identity gives a nod to the Adler’s historic collection and photography to showcase the human experience. Illustration has a part, too, with the whole Adler team jumped in. “We co-created the ‘Adlerverse’, a collection of hand drawn stars and doodles from the staff and volunteers that is now featured throughout the identity system,” says Janice Pedley, creative director of Pause for Thought. “With over a hundred submissions, the Adlerverse is an authentic expression of the whole organization and a celebration of the community.”
The logo takes cues from the sky in multiple ways. It now incorporates a warm yellow color – bright, cheerful, and optimistic, much like the Sun. “Early on in the process we established that the logo should not include the dome,” adds Pedley. “Although it’s an iconic building, the Adler’s mission is much bigger than the sky shows inside.” The Adler reaches millions through youth STEM programs, neighborhood skywatching events, online citizen science, and other outreach efforts. “We suggested this extensive programming reach could be expressed through the metaphor of an orbit of influence, with Adler at the center. The circular planet is propelled upwards with gravity assist, symbolizing how the Adler inspires people to ‘reach for the stars.’”
The updated brand promise and brand identity was a dream project for the branding partners. “Ryu Mizuno, vice president of marketing at the Adler, came to us with a true story of transformation,” notes Kelli Peterson, founder of The Change Project. “It’s one thing to say you want to connect your entire community to the sky and it’s another to have the ability to do it. The programming inside the Planetarium and deep into the Chicago neighborhoods is like no other.” Michelle Larson is CEO of the Adler Planetarium.