SomeOne crafts sophisticated, aspirational branding for the National Youth Orchestra

Branding for young people is full of pitfalls, from appearing patronising to engaging in cliches. The new visual identity for the National Youth Orchestra by SomeOne avoids these traps and helps the organisation on its mission to change lives.

The National Youth Orchestra was founded in 1948 as a post-war symbol of hope and confidence. Rather than being elitist, the idea was to encourage young people to improve their lives through music, a philosophy it retains today. Today, it's the UK's leading organisation developing teenagers' confidence, optimism and skills through playing music together.

As a young person, joining The National Youth Orchestra (NYO) opens doors. You open a room full of people who love the same kind of music as you. You open a chance to learn how to play better with the best in the business. You open up new ideas, new friends, new places to visit, new music to master.

There are currently 160 teenage musicians in the orchestra, with a further 1,000 participating through their NYO Open programme. But the organisation is always keen to attract more. So they recently came to award-winning creative agency SomeOne to help rebrand the organisation, ready for a new generation of musicians to play their part.

Concept and strategy

A new strategy was created to bind the organisation together and help steer it towards future growth and success. Recognising the brand needed to be a platform of motivation, not an explanation, SomeOne created the expression: 'Play your part'.

This became the new mantra for the charity and now forms part of the lock-up used to brand primary branded materials and communications.

"A strategy that calls for everyone to 'play their part' fits this organisation so well," explains Simon Manchipp, founder of SomeOne. "It's not just the musicians, but the tutors, parents, supporters and fundraising efforts that must play as one. Only then can the NYO ensure young people get an experience that shapes an entire lifetime."

Design elements

A radical but minimal new word mark spells out NYO to those in the know and seeks to intrigue the unfamiliar audience to discover more. This new signature is joined by new colour systems, both expressive and functional typographic palettes, photographic guides and animated assets.

Amy Matthews, junior designer at SomeOne, says: "We wanted to highlight the positive impact being a part of NYO has on the lives of everyone involved – the new colour systems, photography and bold application of the branding really help make the right first impression."

Perhaps most importantly, the new design system moves away from the norms associated with charity and avoids the cliches of branding aimed at a teenage audience, such as jaunty angles, 'fun' typefaces and random graphics. Instead, the core design elements take an understated approach that (metaphorically) hits all the right notes.

Overall, the agency has taken a visually-led, aesthetically sophisticated approach that talks to young people in a more aspirational way and is unashamed of talking about orchestral music and skill sets that require hard work to master.

"The young musicians are the stars of the show and now star in the branding," says Gina Hopkins. "While on the shoot, I really wanted the new photography to highlight individual personalities. I wanted to show an attitude and confidence that aligns with being the best young musicians in the country rather than hiding behind typical British modesty."

"In the end, it was young people who made the call," adds Mark Smith, creative director at SomeOne. "Rather than follow creative routes of 'sound activated' visuals or 'orchestral cues', the core audience wanted a brand they could wear proudly amongst peers. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive."

This new visual, verbal and strategic thinking will refresh every touchpoint for the organisation, from print to digital to live performances; in short, everywhere the NYO is looking to be present.


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