Sydney Opera House

Bringing the outside in

Creating a brand that could live up to an iconic building

You probably wouldn’t expect the Sydney Opera House to have any problems attracting an audience. Yet when we started working with them back in 2014, we realised they were facing exactly that. So with a challenge to change perceptions and a vision of a sculptural form language, we set out to create a brand that could live up to the building.

With its iconic sails and incredible performances, the Sydney Opera House has long been one of the world’s most loved buildings. It’s an Australian icon.

But it had its problems. It was finding it hard to communicate with its audiences.

There was no thread uniting its different experiences, departments and partners. And while more people were visiting than ever before, most simply snapped a selfie outside. They weren’t actually coming in.

We needed to find the Sydney Opera House’s voice, and let people know that, although things look great from the Harbour, the real magic happens inside.

An iconic typeface that’s born from the House and embodies the House

At its heart, this sculptural form language reflects the striking contours of the building. It complements the content of any performance or show, before bringing the attention back to where it belongs—the House.

Utzon, our display typeface, is built in an engineering program by acclaimed Swiss typographer Laurenz Brunner. It has all the structural integrity and detail it needs to be rebuilt in real life—and even 3D printed.

The best part? With the help of a custom-made InDesign script, anyone working with the Sydney Opera House can easily turn type into Utzon, too. Just plug your copy in, click the generate button, and let the script work its magic. It means, while our typeface is visually striking, it’s also incredibly practical.

While our core brand uses colours from the building’s exterior, comms linked to performances take on the mood of the content itself. Performance imagery and illustration come to the fore, while our secondary colour palette (inspired by Utzon’s artwork) helps set the right tone.

And after we’ve celebrated our chosen performances, our typeface brings the attention back to where you’ll find them taking place—the Sydney Opera House.

There’s more to the Sydney Opera House than opera

We created Shifting Perspectives—a brand idea that inspires conversation around culture and art, and helps visitors understand there’s more to the Sydney Opera House than opera.

Paired with Shifting Perspectives is a sculptural form language. The architectural principles set by Jørn Utzon became the foundation for the brand identity. We used the same geometries and inspirations to develop a flexible brand system across brand assets, motion, and communications.

Sails are used to draw attention and interact with photography, while the 3D Utzon typeface reflects the contours of the building itself.

Media Response

If you want to know more about this project, we would be happy to talk