Most of the time, most days in every month, your audience is not in the theatre seeing shows.  They’re out there in the world, doing what they do: swimming at The Dock, fastening miniature horses to sidewalk rings, dodging below crane-a-palooza.  Maybe that’s only in Portland.

And when they’re not physically present in the theatre, which is most of the time, how do they experience your brand?  It happens internally.  Any time you come to mind, they replay a mental news reel that sums up all the various memories and associations they have.  And other than the quality of your shows, probably nothing influences what they think as much as your graphic design.

They watch that home movie, they think about your brand.  And when the moment comes to buy a ticket, chances are they already made a decision a long time ago – based on what they feel in that film.

Good graphic design speaks.  Like a great play, it creates a world.  It’s the difference between authentic accents that take you into the story and others that bring Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy to mind.  It’s the difference between phoning it in and knocking it out (of the park).  It is all important.  And yet for so many theatres, graphic design is an afterthought.  If that.

What does good graphic design look like?  Ladies and gentlemen, behold the mighty Public Theater.

(You’ll want to look at these images and the Public’s site on a big screen when you can, for the full experience.)

It looks like this.

The Public Theater
An email that is a show.

And this.

The Public Theater
Leaping off the screen.

And this.

The Public Theater
Stopped mid frame – the show is always on.

POW!  SLAM!  BIFF!  No joke – design this good can stop even the most jaded New Yorker scurrying down Lafayette dead in their tracks.  It can bring tears to the eyes.  It did for me.  Why?  Because it shows just how good design can be.  BAM!

Soak it in.  Breathe deep.  Load those styles and images.  Process those metaphors and references.  Now what do you know, based on this unforgettable visual experience?  That these people KICK ASS.  Oh yes.  How could they not?

Where did Oskar Eustis and crew get permission to be this good – this authentic – this urgent??  Impressive.

And once you’ve seen graphic design this good, what happens the next time you’re on the Subway or dashing cross town or sitting at the desk and you think about the Public Theater?  Let that movie roll.