Late in 2008, the LA STAGE Alliance needed a new design for its Ovation Awards, the Oscars® of local theater honors held annually in Los Angeles. In hiring DISTINC, however, the nonprofit — whose mission since 1975 has been to build awareness, appreciation, and support for the L.A. performing arts — did more than tackle a simple design challenge: it took the first step in a long and fruitful partnership which, over time, resulted in the organization’s successful rebranding — which in turn set the stage for several smart new initiatives.
FROM UNINSPIRED TO UNSTOPPABLE
In assessing its new client, DISTINC found the Alliance’s visual identity gravely outdated, relying on a decades-old look that neither inspired its staff nor served its membership. DISTINC began to move the Alliance towards a more present-day mindset by leveraging its success with the Ovation Awards into a redesign of the group’s monthly magazine. Further, DISTINC suggested leveraging two-thirds of the group’s name — LA STAGE — as a branding identity. Both moves helped motivate the .org’s team and attract renewed enthusiasm from its membership.
With a new look and a new naming convention, LA STAGE began to thrive. In 2010, when printing costs became prohibitive, DISTINC stepped in to help once again, this time to migrate the publication’s content online, launching a new blog intended to broaden the group’s appeal and further establish its authority among the 500 arts organizations it serves. The first step in a comprehensive online communications strategy, the migration has come to define LA STAGE’s current success.
TECH HELPS CONNECT
LASTAGEAlliance.com serves two distinct constituencies: theater companies who log in to register shows, enter data, and apply for the Ovation Awards competition; and patrons seeking industry news and discounted theater tickets. Working closely with LA STAGE’s board of directors, DISTINC analyzed the relationship between these two groups, directing their evolution and focusing the nonprofit’s identity in order to effectively serve both.
“A lot of what we managed to accomplish was steered by [LA STAGE Executive Director] Terence McFarland’s fearless leadership,” says Jean-Marc. “Nonprofit organizations barely dare to send more than one email a month, whereas Terence has been an avid web consumer who fully understands the importance of content sharing online.”
A HUMMING, HELPFUL ORGANIZATION
Under DISTINC’s guidance, LA STAGE has fully matured as a brand. Its blog (recently re-named the LA STAGE Times) now attracts respected arts journalists; arts patrons and theater companies know they can rely upon its technology as well as its editorial voice. Content-wise, the site reflects extensive focus-group study and consensus-building that clearly define LA STAGE’s role as a vigorous advocate for the arts. Visually, it reflects DISTINC’s signature pared-down look, highlighting the nonprofit’s brand with simple visual language and clear, concise content.
In just four years, one Alliance has grown, and another has flourished.