For performers and audiences alike, The Broad Stage in Santa Monica is among the world’s most desirable live-performance venues. Opened in 2008 on the campus of Santa Monica College, with Dustin Hoffman as its artistic chair and Eli and Edyth Broad its financial backers, The Broad boasts a state-of-the-art architectural design, eclectic programming, a strong arts education program, and a formidable mission: to establish itself as a singular entertainment destination on the west side of Los Angeles.
Yet to brand the new space proved challenging, because The Broad was built with inherent contradictions. Grand yet intimate, it “books big” even as — with just 499 seats — it “sells small”; it feels world-class, yet its patrons were often neighbors; located “at the beach” in Santa Monica, it was inextricably linked to the vast conurbation of metro Los Angeles. And folks who attend its performances are often unsure whether to wear a tuxedo or a T-shirt.
Hired to create a new visual language for The Broad and align the look and feel of its branded communications across a variety of applications, DISTINC did just that — and began, in the process, to build a community of Westside arts patrons. Rather than downplay The Broad’s contradictions, we opted to embrace them, adopting paradox as a central motif across The Broad’s branded collateral. Deploying simple color photography, an efficient typographic system, and compelling copy, DISTINC’s team defined the uniqueness of The Broad and its supporting community using impossible opposites: “Hot jazz. Cool nights.” “World music. Local scene.” “Ballet slippers. Flip-flops.”
Along with these copy-based “inconsistencies” driving design, new visual materials echoed the characteristics of either the venue or the community: many featured two different horizontally-oriented photographs, one mounted upside-down to “reflect” The Broad’s Westside community (palm trees, the Santa Monica Pier, a street scene); copy across one brochure morphed from yellow to blue as the piece unfolded to reveal the breadth of its programming; a tightly folded program schedule, fugitive-glued to a flier, read “FOR MEMBERS ONLY.” It was like a note passed from a secret admirer.
A BRANDED VENUE, A GROWING COMMUNITY
Throughout, DISTINC worked closely with The Broad’s marketing, education, membership and development departments to create dozens pieces. The effect of this consistent branding — across the Web, on brochures, fliers, mailers, programs, advertisements, and outdoor signage — has meant a consistent identity for The Broad, but it’s also galvanized the Westside audience that recognizes its own paradoxes (a chamber music fan in casual shorts?) and feel The Broad Stage is for them. West of the 405 freeway, a small, splendid performance space is bringing big stars to a new community of fans.