Can a rebrand satisfy all the people, all of the time?
It’s not surprising to find one of Britain’s most cherished drama schools under pressure to satisfy the expectations of diverse and demanding audiences. When your stakeholders range from raw students to pillars of the profession, it can be hard to retain a grasp on your identity.
The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) is both a cornerstone of the theatrical establishment and a hotbed of young talent. It’s also a highly respected examination body, synonymous with speech and drama in schools across the globe. In other words, LAMDA is many things to many people.
It’s a fact of life that the more you do, and the better you do it, the harder it becomes to present a single, compelling face to the world. Each new audience brings fresh expectations, and it’s tempting to let those expectations define who you are. But short-term responses to immediate challenges will erode the equity of your brand, creating problems when the time comes for intensive communication with a clear objective – in LAMDA’s case, a major fundraising campaign.
Our solution was not to create a monolithic brand with which to control LAMDA’s disparate constituencies, but to reveal and celebrate qualities that already existed across the organisation.
The resulting brand story is built on the themes of transformation, collaboration, transparency and continuity – each an ingrained characteristic of both the school and the examining body, witnessed in their day-to-day activities and relevant to the demands of the modern world.
Together, these themes provided a set of guidelines for the design process, enabling us to move the visual identity forwards by demonstrating how each fresh development was connected to established principles.
New ideas became iterations of existing values, criticism became constructive, and reluctance was replaced with qualified enthusiasm.
Step by step, we moved the LAMDA logo into a more modern idiom, while ensuring that it possessed the flexibility to exist comfortably in more traditional environments. It is crisp and confident, with a subtle nod towards the theatrical masks of Thalia and Melpomene.
The broader visual identity draws on the natural energy that permeates the organisation, announcing LAMDA’s presence in a crowded marketplace.
Since rolling out the identity, we have created the new LAMDA website, season brochures and prospectuses for the drama school, staff magazines for examinations and fundraising material for Act Now – LAMDA’s £4m capital campaign.
Today, LAMDA’s visual identity resonates with many audiences, binding the drama school and examination board together by reminding each of the shared goals and collaborative approach that underpin their success.
For us, the project offered a welcome reminder of the value of counterintuitive thinking: when the obvious course of action is to bring an unruly brand to heel by imposing tight constraints, the best response may be to strike out in the opposite direction, incorporating room for interpretation and space to grow.