Sadler’s Wells introduces branding for its different spaces

The UK-based dance organisation can more easily differentiate between its various venues with a new design system, which has been developed with Chestnut Creative ahead of launching a new East London location this year

Sadler’s Wells has been home to the performing arts for hundreds of years. In the 1990s, its historic birthplace in London’s Islington was transformed into a dance theatre, and by 2005, it moved into original dance productions. Since then, it has produced 64 original full-length dance works and taken them to 51 countries.

The organisation now has three physical venues – soon to be four when Sadler’s Wells East launches in Stratford’s Olympic Park – as well as a ‘digital stage’. With the new venue on the horizon and its “biggest slate of activity in 25 years”, it seemed like a timely opportunity to revise how each venue turns up in the world.

“This is a pivotal year for Sadler’s Wells and we want to shout about it – with the launch of a fourth venue, it’s the most significant milestone since the ‘new’ venue opened at our legendary site in Angel 25 years ago,” says director of marketing and communications, Chris Travers.

To help more clearly signpost the various venues in physical communications and digital experiences, Chestnut Creative developed individual wordmarks for the five Sadler’s Wells spaces, each with its own colour palette and concise naming conventions: Sadler’s, as it has been known colloquially for years, Peacock, Baylis, Digital, and East.

“The catalyst for change was looking at the logo for East and the realisation that in its previous format it was too wordy. So we stripped it down to its boldest iteration – East,” explains Georgette Purdey, head of marketing at Sadler’s Wells, who oversaw the project. “We then looked at the other venues using this lens and simplified the logos to one-word solutions that retained their essence, and reflected the familiarity with which our patrons often refer to them by.”

“Colour was a useful tool to aid customer wayfinding across the four venues, and to enhance each venue’s unique identity,” Purdey explains. “East led the pack with green – which reflects new life, regeneration of the area in East London, and the foliage in the park. Red has always been and remains the iconic main brand colour of Sadler’s Wells Theatre and the organisation as a whole, and echoes the distinctive seats you will find in the auditorium.

“For the Peacock, we looked at the history of the venue, considered the need for a bold statement in the West End and took inspiration from the colours in the eye of a Peacock’s tail. For the Baylis we chose pink as it sits close to red in the colour spectrum, reflecting that the two venues are under one roof, and hints at the new cutting-edge work that takes place on that stage. Digital’s blue is a cool and calming colour to suggest a reassuring smooth process for the user to view content.”

These new wordmarks will appear in an adaptable lock-up with the overarching Sadler’s Wells logo, a square design that was introduced in 2014 and was off-limits in this process.

The refreshed design system, including a new poster format, will be visible in the launch campaign for Sadler’s Wells East, which was part of the brief. The team also revised the website’s navigation and created animated logos to energise the branding on digital touchpoints.

“It’s been a real privilege to work on such a historic and iconic institution which also has a firm vision of the future,” says Nathan Savage, creative director at Chestnut Creative, “not only with the imminent opening of their East venue but by embracing change to the more established elements of their brand – never a comfortable thing to do.”