Here are a few detailed examples of how we’ve partnered with clients to help them improve their businesses.
When Manhattan New Music Project (MNMP) approached Coa, they recognized that they were badly in need of an identity change and an image update. The organization had just gone through serious restructuring and had to adapt to their new focuses. We provided them with an adaptable, unified branding system that better displays the amazing work of the organization and the full breadth of their services.
MNMP’s original brand identity spoke only to one dimension of the organization: music composition, represented by a musical staff. However, that aspect is only half of what they do. In addition to supporting independent and up-and-coming new composers, MNMP also develops performing arts and music programs for education. The challenge was to create a branding system that is flexible enough to frame both of these equal halves of the organization.
We began by interviewing the board of directors, and working with the MNMP Executive Director, to determine the priorities and the ultimate applications of the branding. We learned about the various audiences that MNMP has to have a dialogue with: donors, school administrators, musicians, and concertgoers. We also researched other cultural and arts organizations to get a context of what these audiences would be comparing to MNMP and developed several visual concept directions that would stand out in that landscape.
The clients at MNMP reacted positively to the concepts and felt that each presented the organization in a different way. This provoked questions among the organization leadership about which visual most accurately represented MNMP and what they wanted it to become. Each stakeholder had a different opinion about which concept matched their vision for the organization. Our exploratory work resulted in conversations within about the brand and the organization’s direction that were thought previously to be unanimously accepted visions.
At an impasse, we proposed an alternative idea: a more open branding system that would allow for the versatility of both the education and performance content to help the organization grow into its new strategic focuses. The leadership welcomed the idea and we developed a system centered around a typeface family (Bryant Pro by Process Type), a logo lock-up that emphasizes “New Music”, and a color palette. The organization of the lockup suggests the music staff of the old identity but steps away from the “MNMP” initials (unrecognizable except internally) and instead brings their unique focus on emerging music to the forefront.
The looseness of the logo allowed us to experiment with secondary design elements for the differing aspects of the organization while still looking cohesive. We developed an ‘exploding palette’ of colored shapes to depict the categories of the arts in education programs. The website uses separate highlight colors and graphics for content related to education versus performances. All elements are tied together with the typography and the primary palette or black and yellow.
This extended to many applications including a custom Moleskine notebook commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the organization that included an embossed cover, music staff lined pages, and custom stickers.
It is always a pleasure working with clients like Manhattan New Music Project who value design thinking and are willing to invite us to collaborate with them early in their process so that we can influence the creative direction they are heading and help them solve the challenges they are facing.