Brand Refresh via Step Up Grant: Oklahoma City Ballet - Saxum

WorkOklahoma City Ballet

Overview

Oklahoma City Ballet premiered as the Oklahoma City Civic Ballet in 1963, and in 1980 it adopted its most well-known moniker, Ballet Oklahoma. The company has a deep history of excellence, boasting directors from New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Dallas Ballet.

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Challenge

Like many arts organizations during the recession, the company fell on hard times in the early millennium. In 2008, the company named former dancer Robert Mills as artistic director and renamed the company Oklahoma City Ballet. However, it was difficult to change people’s perception of the ballet and transition community members to use the new name. The company directors knew they needed a brand refresh.

In 2013, Oklahoma City Ballet applied to and received one of Saxum’s annual Step Up grants for nonprofits. Saxum agreed to create a new logo and brand identity for the ballet. The company’s goal was multifaceted. It needed to increase ticket sales and donors, while also revitalizing its brand and positioning its reputation as one of the most prestigious fine arts organizations in the state.

One of the biggest challenges in designing a new logo for Oklahoma City Ballet was appealing to the company’s varied audiences, which range from young children to veteran season ticket holders. Furthermore, the company needed to use its new brand to showcase its vision, rooted both in tradition and modernity.

Strategy/Tactics

To begin the rebranding process, Saxum held an in-depth branding session with four company representatives, where it focused on persona models, brand personality, expectations of the company and aspirations.

From there, Saxum worked directly with its contacts at Oklahoma City Ballet over a three-month period to create a new logo. It held three face-to-face review sessions with the client and engaged the company in ongoing communication to elicit honest feedback and input.

Oklahoma City Ballet chose a logo that used clean lines and angles to represent the upward movement the company experienced in recent years. The logo could be used in varying forms, and Saxum incorporated the company’s entities as secondary logos.

After this, Saxum developed Oklahoma City Ballet’s first style guide, providing guidelines and tips for how to best utilize the new logos and fonts.

With this process complete, Saxum decided to create a promotional spot for the ballet, rounding out the rebrand. After an initial meeting, Saxum developed and presented three concepts to the company’s executive director. Once the concept was chosen, Saxum shot and edited the video. This was all done in one month so the video could be presented when the next season’s lineup was announced.

The selected video concept was designed to showcase the athletic side of ballet. The 30-second branding video aimed to keep the viewer unaware that it was a spot for a ballet company until the 20-second mark, when the pair was shown practicing a lift. The end of the video unveiled Oklahoma City Ballet’s new logo, tying the entire rebrand together.

Results

Oklahoma City Ballet created a new website to further showcase its new identity, prominently featuring the new logo and identity. The branding video was used as the background for the homepage of the website, immediately playing upon entering the site. This helped give the website and the company as a whole the more creative, forward-thinking image its directors desired.

The logo appears in its various forms on Oklahoma City Ballet’s social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. It is also used on all marketing materials, including brochures, programs, t-shirts and posters.

The new logo was used when announcing the expanded lineup for the 2014-2015 season. It helped reinforce the rise of Oklahoma City Ballet. The branding video was featured on the company’s YouTube page and shared on multiple social media platforms, garnering positive feedback from the company’s followers to members of the ballet community across the country. The video was also used when promoting the next season’s lineup, and it was linked on such news stories as The Oklahoman’s preview for “Beauty & the Beast.”

Oklahoma City Ballet plans to continue featuring its new logo as it enters the 2014-15 season and use the branding video to help promote its season and individual shows. The new brand will also be integrated into the continued implementation of the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum for Oklahoma City Ballet’s The Dance Center.

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