Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend

It was 20 years ago that we were first introduced to the Bard on the Beach. We had just started a relationship with Okanagan Spring Brewery and, as luck would have it, they were a sponsor of the Bard. We were able to create a graphical artistic look for the sponsorship. Fresh Bold and colourful with just a touch of whimsy.

Alas, our stint with Okanagan Spring was somewhat short lived. We did a half dozen specific pieces but our main point of contact was reassigned and the work did not continue. However, because of this entrée into Bard, we were given the opportunity to present ourselves and our services. And so, as fortune would have it, we secured the prestigious Bard on the Beach account. No mean feat for a design firm from Surrey.

The team at Thornley at the time included Lisa Tromishauser who created the artwork style as an original painting and Liz Dungate who designed the distinctive “Bard on the Beach” lettering.

Our very first piece of work for Bard was a re-brand of the logo and look for the festival in the Spring of 1998. We created the posters, the transit shelters, and the season brochure. That first poster featured the stacked version of the Bard on the Beach logo and only two plays: As You Like It and Richard III. We had no way of knowing it yet, but those beautiful graphics and branding actually became an icon.

We have always believed, and still do to this day, that the story of Bard on the Beach is that of the festival itself, not the particular season or productions. It was almost like you couldn’t officially call it summer until those posters and transit ads began to spring up across Vancouver. I recall one time when the entire Burrard Street Bridge was festooned with Bard on the Beach banners. Even to this day people still ask “Are you going to Bard?” followed by “What are you going to see?” It is never the other way around.

Believing that consistency was key to establishing and maintaining the brand, our ongoing design work was enhanced and supported over the years by the incredible Kyla, handed off to Leanne, then Lauren and most recently Hailey. Although the changes were subtle, we continued to refine the brand and the supporting marketing materials. Our first major revamp didn’t come until 2014, just in time for the Bard’s 25th Anniversary. A fresh look, a bold sky and cityscape with just a touch more emphasis placed on the Bard Village and its spectacular gate, designed by Pam Johnston.

As time went by we also became involved in the web site. Under the direction of Trevor Kwan and then Michal Pandyra, we moved the site forward through various iterations, each improving upon its predecessor, evolving with the Web as it became a more mainstream form of media. Our goal was always to provide a fully interactive, multi-platform and mobile friendly experience tailored to audiences of all types.

On a personal note, we came to the Bard when we were young and starting out. My friend Christopher Gaze was 20 years younger. (Come to think of it, so was I.) He was the head of a young creative company, successfully balancing the business side with a wonderful and often challenging collection of artists on the creative side. Bard was in fact not too different from our own firm, the mighty Thornley Creative Communications.

Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever and for next season Bard has taken on a new firm to refresh and revitalize their image. We believe that we have left a solid foundation for the new agency to build on, and wish them the very best on this next stage in the wonderful journey that is the “Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival”. We are now, and always will be, fiercely proud of our significant role in the creation of one of the most recognizable and iconic brands in the cultural landscape of the City of Vancouver.

Finally, no one in this world works in complete isolation. I am deeply grateful to, and humbled by, all of the extremely talented people (including the ones not singled out here) who have shared this incredible and somewhat extended moment in our company’s history.

Thank you all!

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