Shakespeare’s Globe rebrands with theatre-shaped logo

The Partners has rebranded the London theatre, giving it a circular, polygon-shaped logo that harks back to the original 16th century building.

The new Shakespeare’s Globe logo

Shakespeare’s Globe has a new visual identity, which draws on the circular shape of the original theatre built in the 16th century.

The rebrand has been completed by The Partners, and was revealed in a Medium blog post by Shakespeare’s Globe. It replaces the logo designed by Pentagram partner Alan Fletcher.

The previous Shakespeare’s Globe logo, designed by Alan Fletcher © Pentagram

Original playhouse built in 1576, then rebuilt in 1598

The consultancy has given the London theatre a red, circular, woodblock-printed emblem, alongside a red, sans-serif, all-caps logotype set to its right. A colour palette of red, white and black has been used across the visual identity.

The original Shakespeare’s Globe playhouse was built by actor and manager James Burbage in 1576. Following a dispute over leases, the theatre was knocked down and rebuilt near the River Thames in Southwark in 1598, and William Shakespeare was one of four actors who bought shares in the company.

The theatre burnt down in 1613, and was rebuilt but then demolished in 1644 when all theatres were forced to close by law.

The Globe reopened in 1997

Three centuries later, late American director Sam Wanamaker set about rebuilding the theatre in the 1990s based on the original building, discovered through excavations and relics. It was opened in Southwark after his death in 1997.

The shape of theatre and the new logo

The circular symbol of the new logo is a polygon; a 20-sided shape that has been inspired by the architecture of the original theatre. It also references the prologue of Shakespeare’s play Henry V, where the theatre is described as a “wooden O”.

Wood block used to build the theatre

The logo also aims to represent the wood used to build the playhouse. The Partners used a piece of oak taken from an exhibition on the theatre’s 16th century reconstruction, and asked furniture maker Nathalie de Leval to saw into it to create a 20-sided polygon.

“The wood is like a holy relic”

The printing of the logo

This was then taken to printmaker Peter Smith, who covered the block with red ink and rubbed paper on it to create a logo with wood grain detail.

“[The wood] is like a holy relic,” says Nick Eagleton, creative director at The Partners, on Shakespeare Globe’s Medium blog post. “It appears to be the only remaining circular piece of oak from the timber used to rebuild the Globe.”

The logotype is Effra, a new bespoke typeface which is an updated version of 1816 typeface Caslon Junior, chosen for its “historic roots”, says Shakespeare’s Globe.

“The Globe stands for being alive”

The circular logo is being used as a holding device for imagery, photography and words on printed materials such as brochures and posters, and online, “so that all the action emanates from the symbol of the theatre”, says Katherina Tudball, design director at The Partners.

“[The symbol] stands for energy and experiment and for being alive,” she says. “Just like the Globe.”

Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Alongside the new logo, the layout of printed materials has been redesigned based on the First Folio, the earliest collection of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623. Irregular kerning, indentations, margins and image sizes, and random blocks of type in the middle of pages aim to replicate the skew-whiff layout of the 17th century texts.

New version of First Folio

“We spent a lot of time looking at the First Folio,” says Tudball. “Like how they squeezed the type to fit the space, or how it suddenly gets bigger. We thought it would be nice to take the spirit of the First Folio and see what happens when you treat it experimentally.”

New website launches in April

The new visual identity has rolled out online, and will continue to roll out across printed materials. A new Shakespeare’s Globe website will also launch in April this year.

New website.

All images © Shakespeare’s Globe


Hide Comments (6)Show Comments (6)
  • DC January 11, 2018 at 12:10 pm

    “The wood is like a holy relic – It appears to be the only remaining circular piece of oak from the timber used to rebuild the Globe.”

    – So the best thing to do with a 16th century ‘holy relic’ is to saw into it and cover it in red ink to create a logo – where the results only have true meaning if the above is explained!?!

    • Steelysiu January 14, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      But the same would have to be ‘explained’ if you were just presented a piece of wood. At least now (part) of the original relic, has helped transcend its existence onto another form – of which I think works very well.

  • Stephen Bell January 12, 2018 at 9:58 pm

    Good story, video, intellectually solid as wood. But the resulting identity is uninspiring and dare I say boring and generic (I’m not taking a magnifying glass to examine the wood grain in what looks like a plain old graphic circle). I adore the Partners and the majority of their work, but this feels like ‘story’ and video (with award judging panels in mind) taking precedence over a compelling end result!
    It’s dull.

  • Neil Littman January 14, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Incomprehensible. Think Alan Fletcher’s logo was timeless and maybe they could have made it red. I have seen so many circle logos over the years that were supposed to represent something… Only the Blue Circle cement logo justified its design. Otherwise a case of the ’emporers clothes’. I give it two years then back to the drawing board. Fletcher’s logo showed The Globe distilled to its key elements. To me it looks like a piece of wood. Maybe a good logo for a forestry company. I think a good test is to show it to the public and ask them what it is and who it represents. I doubt anybody will say The Globe.

  • Chris January 15, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    I think it’s a lovely idea, has a great story behind it, really bold and impactful in application. But is it just me that’s concerned about how the new identity works at the scale displayed at the top of the article. The wood texture has unfortunately created the appearance of a poorly exported GIF, lacking any kind of definition or craft – is this not what the Shakespeare’s Globe is all about. Shame.

  • Ben Leeves January 25, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    I too am an admirer of Partners work and from what I can see have come up with a unique and bold identity but like so many brands and illustrated in the photos above it looks gorgeous in print but digital seems to be yet again an afterthought. Just take a look at the twitter icon

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