San Francisco Symphony’s new identity brings classical music up to date

Collins added a contemporary twist to the 108-year-old symphony’s branding, drawing inspiration from the expressive sound of the music itself

For many years, classical music has suffered from an ongoing PR problem, which portrays it as unchanging, old-world and elitist, and therefore unable to appeal to new audiences.

San Francisco Symphony decided to tackle these preconceptions head on with its recent diversity- and inclusion-focused organisational overhaul, following the appointment of conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen as its new music director.

The 108-year-old cultural institution’s new model of artistic leadership features eight partners from a range of disciplines, including Bryce Dessner of The National; artificial intelligence entrepreneur Carol Reiley; bassist Esperanza Spalding; classical vocalist Julia Bullock; experimental flutist Claire Chase; violinist Pekka Kuusisto and composer and pianist Nicholas Britell.

The team behind the symphony brought in Collins to translate this new vision into a more expressive visual identity that could cement its role as the home of a contemporary art form.

A responsive and evolving visual system looks to bring the qualities of classic music to life, and includes variable font technology and a colour palette that flexes between classic black and white, as well as more vibrant colours inspired by the landscape of the surrounding Bay Area.

Also central to the updated branding is the symphony’s new online platform, Symphosizer. With concert halls around the world remaining closed indefinitely, the platform uses responsive and variable font technology to give users the experience of enjoying a classical concert from the comfort of their homes but with an added interactive element.

“It’s true that the origins of classical music are hundreds of years old, if not more, but the general population doesn’t tend to realise that it has been in a constant state of flux since its inception,” says Collins creative director, Louis Mikolay.

“It has been defining and redefining itself with each generation – even woven into movie scores, video games, and beyond. Classical music has an incredible amount to offer all of us, especially in such a stressful time. We have been honoured to work with the multi-talented teams at The San Francisco Symphony to help broaden its relevance in the modern world.”

wearecollins.com

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes