Edit Brand Studio has created a new identity for the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), inspired by the “epic” sound of the orchestra and music’s ability “to enrich lives”.
Resident at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the CBSO comprises 90 musicians, led by chief conductor and artistic advisor Kazuki Yamada. Beyond its performances, it also has a community and education programme, choruses and youth ensembles.
As the CBSO had recently celebrated its Centenary in 2022, it was looking to refresh the branding which it had used for “20+ years”, and “move the organisation forward”, explains Edit co-founder and creative director Karen Hughes. Edit was recommended to the project by a third party and selected through a tender process in early 2022.
While initially appointed for a “brand refresh”, Hughes says, “through the process, the CBSO decided there was more of an appetite for a revolution”.
Working closely with the client to shape the new branding, she says, workshops were organised for staff and the orchestra members, attracting around 40 participants, while audience insight compiled by research agency Indigo was also used to inform the project.
Through the workshops “it became quite apparent that there was a lot of passion in the organisation. They do so much for the community, they love what they do, and we just wanted to capture that sense through the work”, Hughes says.
“It was this idea that music fills much more than concert halls. It can fill communities, it can fill streets”, she adds. “The epic-ness of 90 musicians and choruses playing together can fill you up in so many different ways”.
Looking to replicate this sense of “filling space” and the “epic” sound, the logo “was designed to be responsive to different formats and sizes and scales”, stretching and rotating where necessary, Hughes explains.
The branding also needed to be flexible for a range of touchpoints, including a new website developed by Supercool. Wanting it to “feel as seamless as possible”, Edit worked closely with the developers to create assets for different formats, with design features “echoed” throughout, says Hughes.
A tone of voice was developed to overcome a key challenge with classical music, which “is the preconception that it’s quite traditional or stuffy, or that you need to be an expert in classical music to enjoy it”, Hughes explains.
The new tone of voice “borrowed language from wider musical genres, in order for people to be able to make that jump from loving music, to thinking that actually [the CBSO] could be something for me”, she says.
The colour palette, on the other hand, is fairly “sophisticated and also feels quite cool at the same time”, Hughes says. “Balancing the traditional and the contemporary” through the colours, Edit sought to recognise that “as well as attracting new audiences, we don’t want to forget the people that already know and love the CBSO”, she adds.
This also meant that within the photography, orchestra members are often put “front and centre”, Hughes says, as audience research had revealed that people felt “very connected to the orchestra” and would often “know the names” of orchestra members and “want to know more about them”.
The new look is now live, rolling out across the CBSO Centre and an out of home and digital campaign for the CBSO’s new season, also designed by Edit.