In a city replete with iconic structures and enduring institutions, The Cincinnati Observatory occupies a singular space in our collective imagination. What does “brand” mean to a place of such architectural, scientific and historical significance, and how should we approach altering it? The answer is slowly and intentionally, only after listening and learning, only after experimenting and collaborating. Our project with the Observatory resulted in a strategic as well as creative reboot with the goal of deepening relationships and increasing engagement with key audiences: parents and their scientifically enthralled children, astronomy and scientific history buffs, and architectural and cultural preservationists.
Evolving the primary mark took time and consideration. The result pares down the details and locks in a shape-based form of the iconic building. The open door and dome shutter are simple gestures that communicate an invitation to all.
Custom Constellation Illustrations
Inspired by research into the history of cosmology and astronomy, we developed a series of custom constellation illustrations that would fit the timeless style of their identity while adding a sense of play and discovery inherent to the process of learning about stars, a process that inevitably stokes the imagination. The illustrative assets are deployed throughout the system as both primary artwork as well as secondary gestures to add texture and story.
We designed the refreshed website to speak to our four unique audiences through the simple deployment of content blocks and copy callouts as well as deeper page hierarchy and the development of color-coded newsletters for each audience type.
Photography and videography that honor not only the Observatory’s vibrant grounds and prominent hilltop location but also the beauty and detail of its historic structures were essential to bringing the project to life.
The Cincinnati Observatory’s refreshed brand and communications strategy launched in the late summer of 2021, coinciding with the instatement of the institution’s first female Board Chair, Anna Coutts as well as the announcement of the hiring of Executive Director, Anna Hehman.