Reading Film Theatre is an independent cinema that was established over 40 years ago. It is a charity, which relies on the help of volunteers to run it. The cinema is open to everyone, and it screens films during university term time because it hires out the largest auditorium at the university for it’s screenings.
I have been working for Reading Film Theatre since 2013 by volunteering on the Marketing and Publicity Committee and particularly concentrating on helping with design tasks. The redesign of the logo was a project that was assigned to another designer before I joined, however it did not go foreword as the final design was not accepted by the Management Committee.
The restated brief
The logo was to be used on the brochure, the website and letterheads so both RGB and CMYK versions would required. This would extend to any other publicity such as flyers, posters, membership cards etc.
RFT wanted to move away from the timeworn and unsuitable image of being a theatre as opposed to an independent cinema. There was is an extended debate in the Marketing and Publicity Committee and in the Management Committee about whether the Reading Film Theatre should keep it’s full name for the logo, or if should use the (quite well-known) abbreviation – RFT, especially in relation to the new identity.
One of the possibilities discussed was to make the logo adaptable in using both name forms (Reading Film Theatre and RFT). Also, the client wanted for it to be flexible in its design, in a similar manner to the logo that they had at the time that the project was assigned to me.
Another point of discussion often brought up in committee meetings was weather a strap line would make it easier for the public to recognise RFT as a cinema as opposed to a theatre. The agreed strap line that would be used in this case is Passionate About Film.
At my initial briefing I was given some examples of branding that RFT competitors have done. I used this as a starting point and spent some time researching logos and brand images of charity organisations of a small scale such as RFT.
I began my research by looking at other cinema logos, focusing on independent cinema and the main competitors of RFT. I looked at what the successful logos have in common and what effective concepts I could adopt for my design.
I looked at a variety of organisations other than cinemas, both with and without strap lines. I have found that having or not having a strap line does not make an identity more effective unless the strap line is very well known, and therefore I decided to aim to design a logo, which can be used in both ways.
I also looked at ideas about the way that the logo has to be transformable for different uses- print and on screen. I have found that the parts of the logo may sometimes be rearranged in order to fit a specific medium,.
I also made some research further into the type of audience that the organisation is addressing and I began to develop varied sketches and arrangements of the letters RFT, the words Reading Film Theatre and the strap line. I also experimented with imagery and typography.
[initial ideas and sketches]
Diversions from the brief
At the beginning of the process I had a very large amount of variations of ideas, which represented quite a few different approaches to the design of the logo. I had to focus on narrowing ideas down to a single concept that I could develop further.
At this point, after revising the brief, it seemed quite open and some of the suggestions on the Red Star meeting included working with the original logo and manipulating it to create an updated identity. After approaching the client to narrow down the brief, they said that they wanted and extensive change and something completely new and innovative, so I dropped that idea.
[manipulation of the existing logo]
Logo vs brand concept
After the clarification, I proposed an alternative solution focusing more of a brand concept as opposed to a logo only. This idea was supported at Red Star and I looked more closely at conceptual design and focused on making a brand concept proposal, which would solve the issues that RFT may be having as opposed to just replacing the old logo with a new one.
The inspirational modernisation of the charity
I continued to develop my idea of creating a brand as opposed to just a logo and refined my ideas so that the logo to be more flexible when used in different ways. I also worked on the idea of separating the strap line from the logo.
I decided to go with a geometric design, which represents the switch from a film strip to a projector which was being purchased at RFT at the time of the design of the logo, and symbolised a modernisation of the charity. When looked at separately, the circles represent the light of the projector coming from the objective lens, and the squares represent the shape of the ‘body’ of the projector. When looked at all together, the shapes represent the projector from a side point of view. When I decided to go ahead with that concept, I had a closer look at the typeface choice and the geometry of the shapes and letters.
I also experimented with colour scheme variations as requested by the client, and I decided that 4 colour schemes to represent the seasons would be best because that is how often the brochure is printed and sent out.
One of my ideas was to create an animated logo as a opposed to a usual stationary one, which could be the main element of the brand concept.
[creating a brand concept – initial sketches]
[experimentation with different mediums]
Selecting a typeface to use with the logo was another challenging task. I went through numerous versions of typefaces, and I selected Campton. Campton is a geometric typeface which complements the geometric elements of the logo.
Preliminary client meeting and feedback
At this point in the process, the client asked me about my progress with the project and I had a preliminary meeting with the client where I updated her on my progress and talked her through the idea that I had of creating more of a brand concept as opposed to a logo. I showed several ideas that I was having about the arrangement of the geometric shapes and she selected one that she liked best and wanted me to develop. She asked me to make an animation of the logo which I was describing and bring it along to the Marketing & Publicity Committee Meeting to show the rest of the group and see if they approve or think that a different approach needs to be taken on.
On the meeting I presented my idea to the rest of the group who liked my concept and made some suggestions about adjustments. They invited me to the Management Committee Meeting to present the idea to management. Before then I had to finalise the brand and make the animation into a GIF format so that it can be shown as a mock up on the website and prepare a presentation on the logo and the reasoning behind it this choice.
Finalisation of the logo
At the final stages of the design I worked on a set of different colour schemes that could be used with the logo, because part of the brief was to have a flexible element of colour. This was one of the most difficult tasks throughout the project, because I had to think about the way in which the logo would be used and come up with a universal set of rules that I could supply to the client, which required a lot of testing and adjusting.
Presenting the final design to the client
I made a presentation for the Management Committee to show them what I have been working on. I showed them the GIF animation and some examples of how the brochure and website would look. The project was accepted and it was agreed that it would go ahead.
[Final versions of the logo in multiple colour schemes as requested by the client. Each colour scheme has a version that can be used on a dark and light background.]
Specification and style guide
I created a style guide with examples of how to use and not use the logo and sent it to the client. I also exported the logo in numerous formats as required by the client so that they had ready files to use.
In order to enchance the brand and keep it consistent, I suggested that they adopt the colour schemes that I sent over for the rest of their designd and also that they use the typeface that I used for the logo in their titles.
Conclusion and reflection
Overall, the design of the RFT logo was a lot more challenging than I anticipated. I think that the hardest part of the process was coming up with an initial concept that I would develop further. Throughout the process I have also reinforced to myself the importance of looking into the core of the ‘problem’ that the client is facing and coming up with a solution to the problem as opposed to coming up with a design that satisfies the brief.
I got on very well with the client and overall communication was easy in terms of response times. Sometimes, I felt like the client wasn’t really sure about what they were looking for and it was a little bit difficult to narrow down ideas and make selections because of that. I approached the client numerous times to ask about the reasons that the previous logo design project didn’t go ahead, because I thought that it would be helpful to me in learning from other people’s mistakes, however I never got a direct reply. Nevertheless, I think that it was beneficial to go through that experience, because it is common for the client not to be sure about what they are asking for in the design industry.
The final outcome was very rewarding and I am currently working closely with RFT on the implementation of the brand in numerous mediums. Yesterday I recieved some leaflets in the post and having looked through them I found the RFT brochure with my logo on the font cover, which shows me that the whole process, no matter how difficult, was very worthwhile.