Landor’s rebrand for Milan’s Symphony Orchestra engages multiple senses

Landor’s rebrand for Milan’s Symphony Orchestra engages multiple senses

Whenever you work on a branding project, you’re not necessarily looking at the bottom line of your client’s business. You’re thinking more about conveying the ethos of the brand in a holistic way across multiple touchpoints. It’s about long-term brand building and lofty goals rather than getting obsessed with the grubby little business of profit and loss, right?

Normally, we’d agree. But let’s face it: if you relaunch a brand and its subscription sales leap by as much as 56%, you’ll feel pretty pleased with yourself.

And that’s exactly what happened when leading brand and design specialist Landor created a multi-sensory rebrand for Milan’s Symphony Orchestra. Not only did it win 11 awards, but the orchestra also saw a 56% increase in subscription sales, with tickets sold topping €1.3 million.

That’s pretty great, right? So it’s worth hearing how they went about it. In a nutshell, the brand involved four major innovations overall, including re-positioning the orchestra to attract a younger, Gen Z audience; reviving Milanese Futurism; taking inspiration from design, architecture and art; crafting custom typography that’s capable of playing music just like an orchestra, and using a sound wave to create the new logo.

Brand strategy

The Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano is one of Italy’s most important orchestras, with a deep, emotional connection to the city. It needed a refreshed identity that conveyed an emotional but contemporary look and feel and would appeal internationally.

The Landor team tapped into the orchestra’s deep connection with Milan, taking inspiration from the city’s design, architecture, artworks, and art movements to create an identity that reflects the city’s music and culture and the orchestra’s role in making creative expression accessible.

Visual elements

The new identity and design system hones in on the avant-garde Milanese art form of Futurism. In case you didn’t know, Futurism was an early 20th-century art movement that originated in Italy, embracing the concepts of modernity, technology, violence and speed. It rejected the traditions of the past and celebrated the dynamism and energy of the modern industrial world through its distinctive abstract, fragmented visual styles.

Another influence on the new branding was synesthesia. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to automatic experiences in another sensory pathway. For example, some synesthetes experience seeing colours when hearing specific sounds or perceiving tastes when reading words.

The logo represents a sound wave generated from the M glyph that emulates the shapes of Milan’s Cathedral, the Duomo of Milan. It’s a suitably iconic institution to choose: the cathedral took nearly six centuries to complete (1386-1965) and is the largest church in the Italian Republic.

Meanwhile, a coordinated image and custom typography capable of playing music were developed in-house to add an unexpected contemporary demeanour to the identity.

Ambra Redaelli, president of Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano, explains that this rebranding was primarily aimed at young people.

“The new brand projects us in an innovative and inclusive way,” she says. “This is thanks to the combination of elements such as the Duomo, which is the image of Milan, the word ‘Milan’ enclosed in its initial, and the colour palette that recalls Futurism, a period of innovation like never before experienced.”

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