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opportunity

We’ve worked with Gibney on an ongoing basis since 2014. Over these years we’ve developed a deep relationship with this institution, which defies simple explanation. Most people don't know about—much less understand—all that Gibney is and does.

Founded in 1991, Gibney Dance has long existed at the intersection of dance and social action. These values have remained an integral part of the organization, even as every other aspect of the organization transformed exponentially. In a few short years, Gibney has expanded physically and programmatically—adding 52,000 square feet of space and ever more programs for audiences and artists. At this point of inflection, Gibney approached us to redefine their brand to more accurately and wholly tell their story.

You can’t change the world without changing people.
—Gina Gibney, Artistic Director & CEO

process

Before beginning the project, we already knew that Gibney’s offer was wide-ranging and complex. This made our research activities critical to establishing a clear and solid strategic foundation upon which all subsequent activities would be based.

In order to deliver a more accurate identity, our priority was to rethink the organization through a deeper understanding of Gibney’s community—all the individuals that contribute to, benefit from, and participate in Gibney activities— and what Gibney means to them. We conducted interviews with Gibney’s dancers, current and former staff, participants to dance classes and domestic violence movement workshops, resident artists, supporters, and board members. We also conducted co-creation workshops with staff to uncover perceptions and insights about Gibney. The brand platform and set of recommendations taken from these activities enabled all future work to be approached from the perspective of Gibney's community.

Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff
Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff

Internally, Gibney had been using a concept called “the three C’s” to organize and talk about activities: Center, for the physical space; Company, for the dance company; and Community, for its social action work. Gibney relied on these three terms as a shorthand because they were easy to explain. But through the process, we discovered that most of Gibney’s work spans across and blurs these distinctions. From the audience’s perspective, the categories created unnecessary barriers to knowing about the entirety of Gibney’s actions.

We underscored the need to transcend these constraints to find a more flexible, encompassing, and clear way to explain Gibney that would be centered around the user.

Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff
Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff
Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff
Old website featuring “the three C’s:” Center, Company, Community Action

solution

Though our research uncovered a deep complexity to the organization, one universal understanding was the integrality of movement. Physical movement, naturally, but also emotional, spiritual, and political movement are all manifested through Gibney’s values, programs, and community. We also realized that having the word ‘Dance’ as part of the name provided more limitations than opportunities, and recommended it be dropped to leverage the colloquial name already familiar to the community.

Just as dance is able to capture more than what can be put in words, our new identity allows us to visually distill our powerful message.
—Gina Gibney, CEO and Artistic Director

As we approached the visual identity, we wanted to convey the concepts of movement, transformation, and growth that define Gibney. We developed a system based on the flexibility of lines.

Gibney’s new logo conveys an agile and elegant visual system. The lines are exible, transforming and responding to different forms of movement.
Old Architecture
Gibney’s old brand architecture was a collection of ad hoc identities that bore little relationship to one another, creating confusion for their audiences.
New Architecture
Gibney’s cohesive brand architecture allows for a more streamlined communication of the institution’s many offerings.
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Parallel lines make for a compelling visual language to convey movements, even in static contexts.
Old Architecture
Like performance itself, layout concepts need to reflect flexibility to create drama and interaction with space.

Gibney’s website also hadn’t kept up as the institution’s programs and services expanded, resulting in a disjointed, complicated presentation of the sprawling offerings.

We engaged in an exhaustive content architecture analysis, working together with the Gibney team to sort, categorize, and prioritize content informed by organizational processes but centered foremost around users’ needs. We put actions front and center, anticipating that users would want to engage with Gibney’s programs on the whole, not based on subtle, internal distinctions between program offerings.

Furthering our strategic findings, we thought it important to clearly and succinctly express the full breadth of the institution’s offer. We proposed an “agenda” as a key feature of the homepage, allowing users to see, in a functional way, exactly what Gibney offers at any given time, while simultaneously allowing Gibney to convey a complete representation of its work.

  • The website’s homepage puts a given week’s activities front and center, highlighting the hitherto lesser-known offerings.
  • Moments of the new website
  • Moments of the new website
  • Moments of the new website
  • Moments of the new website

Implementation

Though our research uncovered a deep complexity to the organization, one universal understanding was the integrality of movement. Physical movement, naturally, but also emotional, spiritual, and political movement are all manifested through Gibney’s values, programs, and community. We also realized that having the word ‘Dance’ as part of the name provided more limitations than opportunities, and recommended it be dropped to leverage the colloquial name already familiar to the community.

Old Architecture
New Architecture
Old Architecture
We developed a range of design fidelity to allow impactful material to be professionally designed, but also simpler design that can be accomplished by administrative staff, in-house.
performance catalogue training catalogue rental catalogue
Using a range of size formats, the reenvisioned catalogue clarifies content based on both Gibney’s offerings and audiences.
rental catalogue
Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff
Co-creation workshop with Gibney staff
The use of negative space within the interior spreads creates visual tension between image and text.

Acknowledging the opportunity a brand launch offers an organization to reintroduce itself, we developed concepts for and produced two videos that explained the rebrand process and summed up the new Gibney.

Motion Look and feel
Anthem Video

We also continue to work with Gibney to realize the brand, designing a wayfinding and environmental graphics system for its physical space.

way-finding way-finding
The system is flexible yet straightforward to help visitors navigate the space.

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