Marina Willer’s revitalising rebrand for STC brings Shakespeare into the 21st century

Through electric colours and clashing typography, the Pentagram partner aligns the Washington theatre’s brand with its ethos of showing “the continuing relevance of Shakespeare”.

30 September 2022


Washington’s award-winning Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) recently underwent a dramatic shift in leadership. Simon Godwin (previously of the National Theatre, Royal Court and Bristol Old Vic) became Artistic Director and Chris Jennings (previously at the Roundhouse) took on the role of Executive Director. To see in this new era, the new leadership team felt it would be appropriate to have a full visual rebrand, and who better to see this through than Pentagram’s branding guru Marina Willer?

The STC was established in 1970 and has a mission to explore Shakespeare’s works through a contemporary lens. “Its core belief is that theatre acts as collective storytelling and shared witnessing, and is essentially a force for good,” a press release explains. Therefore, Marina’s brief was to create a brand identity that expressed this, and “the continuing relevance of Shakespeare, enhanced by the contemporary perspective that STC brings to his timeless and universal stories”. In line with this, Marina proposed a creative expression focused around “a central idea of interplay between a broad range of dimensions – classic and contemporary, artist and audience, stage and digital, entertaining and learning, intimate and collective, real and unreal”.


Marina Willer & STC: Shakespeare Theatre Company Rebrand (Copyright © Marina Willer & STC, 2022)

The dynamic final rebrand hangs on two distinct poles – typography and colour. The logo features two overlapping types; one was more classic and calligraphic in form, the other more abstract and contemporary. While there’s a certain intriguing tension between the two type styles, the design also demonstrates the synergy of past and present, as represented in the ethos of STC. Moreover, the use of the acronym “STC” was also a purposeful choice. “This is to establish a more approachable connection with audiences, and deliberately moving away from the more academic or inaccessible perception that many people have of Shakespeare,” the press release expands.

In terms of colour, Marina and her team opted for eclectic tones, so as to “bring new light and energy to the classic stories”. Throughout the visual identity, electric blues clash with bright pinks, crimson reds with deep purples. Used in the imagery to promote the plays, the conflicting colours come together to give the feeling of a thermal camera, focusing on the intense drama and emotion of the productions on offer. Attention-grabbing, striking and unwaveringly contemporary, Marina’s rebrand firmly brings Shakespeare’s lasting works into the 21st century and to the eyes of a modern audience ready in waiting.

GalleryMarina Willer & STC: Shakespeare Theatre Company Rebrand (Copyright © Marina Willer & STC, 2022)

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Marina Willer & STC: Shakespeare Theatre Company Rebrand (Copyright © Marina Willer & STC, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.

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