AMFS_Stacked_AspenGrad_RGB copyArts Branding has had the pleasure of working with the Aspen Music Festival and School for over a year now culminating in the launch of the AMFS’s new brand strategy and visual identity at the start of their latest season on July 1. We engaged London-based, international design director, Jessica Philpott to create the visual identity. Both the strategy and identity are inspired by the AMFS’s own image and legacy, as it unveiled its first, unified, organization-wide visual identity, and the first major revision to its logo in decades.

Change and New Needs. In anticipation of and alignment with the completion of its Bucksbaum School Campus, the administration for this nearly 70 year old organization engaged Arts Branding, and commissioned an organization-wide brand strategy and visual identity project to communicate the AMFS’s now world-class stature, resources, and programs. Previous graphics no longer adequately represented the organization. To address this, the AMFS embarked on this effort to better capture its identity in visual design. The organization has changed dramatically in the past decade with the appointment of Music Director Robert Spano, the addition of partnerships and programs, and the full redevelopment of its school campus as a truly world-class facility.

Brand Strategy from Research. We began the intensive engagement with thorough national and international qualitative and quantitative research within Aspen, regionally, nationally, and in the field with Pessen Strategic Research. The resulting brand strategy that we developed, based on this research, articulates a mix of extraordinary performance, focused teaching, natural splendor, and Aspen’s small town charm—a combination which all constituents find uniquely compelling about the AMFS experience. Primary within that, is better expression of the world-class level to which the organization has risen. With equal importance, the strategy also highlights the energizing effect of professionals and students playing side-by-side—a key aspect of the Festival which audiences, faculty, students, and guest artists love.

Visual Identity Inspiration. As bold and contemporary as its School architecture, the AMFS’s new visual identity—ultimately used across all digital and print communications—was inspired by AMFS’s own image and legacy: the clean, modernist aesthetic and graphic design of the influential Bauhaus legend, Herbert Bayer. He came to Aspen in the 1940s with Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, creators of The Aspen Idea (integration of body|mind|spirit), and founders of the AMFS and the Aspen Institute. Bayer’s sensibility informed every aspect of Aspen’s transformation from a mining and ranching community to a world-class arts destination. He was responsible for much of the early graphic design for the AMFS, as well as for the Aspen Institute.

UntitledStrategy in Design. In viewing the new logotype, people see in its shapes an abstract “A” and/or “M,” musical notation, or simply Bauhaus-like shapes. Colors and supporting imagery are inspired by both Bayer’s aesthetics, and the natural beauty and feeling of summer in Aspen. Understanding that a logo can’t represent every aspect of an organization, we had the AMFS team consider dozens of design options and emphases that we created for them. Ultimately, the new visual identity will carry the world-class excellence and boldness in the logo, and express the AMFS’s spectacular location, casual, welcoming atmosphere, and transcendent experiences in imagery.

Board member, Stephen Drimmer; President and CEO, Alan Fletcher; and Director of Marketing and Communications, Laura E. Smith, spearheaded this momentous project for the AMFS.