Case Study

Portland Symphony Orchestra

A fresh new branding system, website, and supporting graphics for Maine's widely-celebrated arts organization.
Portland Symphony Orchestra
Portland, Maine
Pulp + Wire

In 2018, Perch was tasked with rebranding the Portland Symphony Orchestra, providing an opportunity for the organization to reflect on its values and aspirations while simultaneously naming a new Music Director and building upon its successful Crescendo endowment campaign. This confluence of factors set the stage for a wide-ranging exploration process that examined the PSO’s impact on the Maine arts community and established an extensible aesthetic system that the Orchestra and its diverse initiatives can grow into in the years to come.

The PSO prides itself on its world-class performances, its accessibility to all Mainers, and its ability to transform lives through music. We knew that any type of brand treatment must grow out of these tenets while simultaneously allowing the Orchestra to delineate between its overall mission and its audience-specific (and sub-branded) programming, such as its elementary-school-oriented KinderKonzerts and its Symphony & Spirits program for young professionals.


The Core System

After grouping sketches into symbolic, gestural, and musical categories, the team settled on a simple, elegant primary mark that finds a middle ground between timelessness and playfulness, built upon a simple type-only treatment and a subtle gradient with gestural, particle-based flourishes. As part of this system, Perch created a custom pressure-sensitive drawing tool that allows any PSO designer to develop their own take on these gestural additions and import the resultant SVG code into their design files.

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Extending to the Sub-Brands

With dozens of ongoing and emerging community initiatives, Perch made sure to consider the extensibility of the PSO core brand. This was done through a robust typographic system and two secondary color palettes—one whimsically supporting the kid-focused initiatives and the other complementing the adult programs. Both extensions rely on playful stamp-like instrument shapes that can be used to develop new materials as needed.


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Pulling it All Together Online

With a dynamic new logo and branding system in place, we moved on to creating an inspiring and functional online presence for the Symphony, replacing their 10-year-old site with a fresh, mobile-first, and highly customizable WordPress website. The site places a heavy emphasis on extending your PSO experience through community programming, related concerts and events, and recommendations tailored to each visitor’s interests.