I was surprised in attending the announcement of Hartford Stage’s 50th anniversary season to learn that the old place has a new logo.
I love logos. I find them fascinating, artistic, cool and think they reflect a pop aesthetic of their time. It’s also fun to figure out when they work -- and when they don’t. How they “brand” a product or institution, or how they “bland” it.
The new Hartford Stage logo harkens back to an earlier image of the theater: a thick red “H,” a nice retro touch on the occasion of a significant anniversary. It’s the branding not only of an “H” (so handy in “H”artford) but a color as well. (With Travelers’ crimson umbrella -- a brilliant logo -- maybe all of Hartford’s logos should be ablaze in scarlet.)
But just the imposing “H” alone would have been too much of a throwback, and perhaps even a negative one, with an emphasis on a fortress or castle-like image. (The 50 Church Street building is a red brick monolith that architecturally says “Go away” more than it says “Welcome.”)
But the a-ha touch -- and one that elicited a happy “Ahhhhh” from the crowd at the unveiling -- was that at the base of the “H” one of the letter’s thick “legs” was being drawn back, like a curtain.
Clever. Theatrical. Perfect.
Now it says, “Come in, and see what‘s happening behind the curtain.” (Hmmm, where have I heard that phrase before?) It also suggests engagement and transparency, so one hopes that deeds live up to image. It also evokes a sense of mystery. After all, one never knows what is behind the curtain.
The only downside to the logo is that, at least as it was presented, it wasn’t 21st century enough. That is, it didn’t seem to be interactive, moving, dynamic, web-friendly.
The “H” just sits there being a mostly a big fat letter, redeemed by this grace note. But if there were pictures, video clips or movement within the borders, then you have an ever-fresh logo that not only says, “Come in,” but “Here’s who we are. Here’s what we are doing. Stay a while.”
Maybe even for another 50 years.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times