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CASE STUDY

SEAT OF THE PANTS

BRIEF

The founder of Seat of the Pants Productions, Craig Joseph, was at a point where he was ready to take his itinerant theatre company to the next level. He came to us to help figure out what that next level could look like. He needed a solid identity that would work within a certain professional stratum, as well as a brand that could be applied to promotional materials that would be attractive to both stakeholders and theatregoers, while at the same time maintaining the bootstrapping character of the company that got a start “by the seat of its pants.”

Seat of the Pants logo

OUTCOMES

  • A unique logo that references the nature of the company
  • A colorful and stylized brand system that Seat of the Pants can truly own
  • Visually consistent season posters and eye-catching artwork for social media outreach
  • A new website to promote the company and its plays, enhance the ticket buying and donation experience, and serve as an archive for the company’s works
Molly Sweeney play photo

photo by Aimee Lambes

Seat of the Pants button
End of the Tour play photo

photo by Aimee Lambes

Seat of the Pants t-shirt
Picnic play

photo by Jeremy Aronhalt

BRAND

During our initial conversations we realized that Craig leaned towards mid-century modern design. A poster from one of his previous shows had been done in a Saul Bass style. We took that as our jumping-off point to begin design explorations. We ended up with flat, chunky artwork that could almost be made from cut paper and a color theme drawn directly from Saul Bass movie posters. A custom display typeface was paired with a workhorse sans family that would have been in wide use during the era. Graphics for collateral material and the website followed the simplified Saul Bass style, culminating in a colorful, fun identity versatile enough to build on.

2018 Seat of the Pants season posters
Smokefall play photo

photo by Aimee Lambes

Seat of the Pants season posters

DIGITAL

Seat of the Pants is nimble by design, with overhead kept deliberately low so that resources can be funneled into actually producing plays. In that spirit, simplicity and easy updating were priorities for a website. With this in mind we opted for Squarespace, the popular all-in-one website platform, customizing a minimal template and linking it up with ticketing and event information via EventBrite. While the site’s primary function is promotional, it also serves as an archive of past productions and as a curriculum vitae for Mr. Joseph.

Seat of the Pants website desktop
Seat of the Pants website mobile
Seat of the Pants website tablet

ABOVE AND BEYOND

Unhappy with the selection of Paul Rand-inspired typefaces available, we decided to make our own. The letters were drawn by hand and then scanned and traced in font software. To keep things relatively simple, only the uppercase letters, numbers, and a handful of useful punctuation marks were created. Logo marks were included as well. The final font was named Babs Sans after Craig Joseph’s dog Babs.

Babs Sans typeface specimen

Every year, when we announce our season and start sharing the posters and postcards with audiences, lots of people tell me how much they love the designs and how much the artwork is getting them intrigued about the plays. Not only has OKTHX given us compelling visuals, but they’ve created a brand identity that is differentiating us in Northeast Ohio. On a crowded shelf of promotional materials in a theatre lobby, people recognize a Seat of the Pants postcard immediately and pick it up; the quality of the marketing matches the quality of what they’ve come to expect onstage.

CONCLUSIONS

As Seat of the Pants launched its second season of work under the new identity, we watched as compliments rolled in on social media and were passed along to us. When other notable acting companies are asking who designed the posters, we happily take that as a win. With some savvy marketing featuring the new look along with the new website to streamline ticket sales, the latest season saw sold out shows and rave reviews. We’re happy to have helped achieve such success.