Pentagram Keeps Shakespeare Relevant

An Interplay Between Classic and Contemporary

Pentagram was asked to rebrand the Shakespeare Theatre Company to signify a new era for the theater and its new leadership team. The design firm’s brief: create an identity that expresses the continuing relevance of Shakespeare and the contemporary perspective that STC brings to his stories. For example, the Company frequently presents Shakespeare’s classic texts with a fresh angle, highlighting topics such as diversity, inclusivity and tolerance as well as  reflecting on universal themes such as love, power, greed, life, and death.

Building on the theater’s vision of “Vital Stories Audaciously Shared,” Pentagram proposed a creative expression arising from the interplay between a range of dimensions – classic and contemporary, artist and audience, stage and digital, entertaining and learning, intimate and collective, real and unreal – as a way of reimagining stories from the past for audiences of the future.

Inspired by this interplay, Pentagram partner Marina Willer and team developed a logo with  overlapping historic and contemporary type which plays on the tension between these two forms. In contrast to the longer wordmark, the acronym STC is used as a shortcut to establish a more approachable connection with audiences and move away from the more academic or inaccessible perception that many people have of Shakespeare.

Designed to appeal to a contemporary audience, electric tones and dynamic imagery are combined to bring light and energy to the classic stories. The support typography is modern, functional and neutral, and photography ranges from electric tones to more natural everyday imagery that documents the wide-ranging activities of the company.

STC’s Simon Godwin states: “Working with Marina and her team has been an inspiring joy. Together they have helped us articulate a relationship between the classical and the contemporary and evolved a visual identity for STC which is audacious and profound. Combining past and present to build a brand for the future, Pentagram has empowered us to look ahead with courage and excitement.”

The project team included: Hamlet Auyeung, Rita Desport, Kate Blewett and Jeremy Downes. Collaborates were: John Grant (strategy) and Felix Steindl (web development).