Vividly supporting creative endeavour

Branding, Identity, Communications

  • Communications Platform
  • Identity
  • Brand Signature
  • Strategy
  • Art DIrection

Client Contact:

Ellie Smith


Meek Zuiderwyk

Downstage Theatre is a Wellington institution. It now has a 45 year history. The Hannah Playhouse has has been its iconic home since the late 1970’s.

I began working with the then artistic director, Ellie Smith, while I was working at Clemenger.

Downstage as a brand had lost its way in a number of ways. The type of work they were presenting had no thread, the company was only just surviving and its brand had disappeared in amongst the raucous competition.

Ellie had a vision to bring audiences ‘seasons’ of shows, where subscribers could see the coming year’s work and get excited about what was coming. The shows had a consistent theme, art direction was a strong driver and the production lifted in terms of quality.

My task was to created a brand that reflected the lift in quality, that had longevity and had a creative platform that allowed each show they staged to have its own unique identity.

I created a brand that had a huge toolbox of elements; strong typography, bold colours, proprietary patterns and metallic inks. Vividly metaphoric photography became a cornerstone of the creative delivery. Because each show had to be creatively mapped out months before even the first rehearsal took place, I had to create a way of selling each show that wasn’t dependent on using the main cast.

I worked across three years of activity and I have to say, was some of the most enjoyable creative collaboration I have experienced. While Ellie was strongly driven with a bold vision, she was inordinately trusting of where I took the creative direction. The subscription concept worked. Rather than spontaneously turning up to shows, audiences now planned months in advance of what they were going to attend.

The brand is  coming up twelve years old, but in many ways has stood the test of time.