Studio Round

We are Round —
a design practice that
harnesses culture and
creativity to transform brands.
Find out more.

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We are Round —
a design practice that
harnesses culture and
creativity to transform brands.
Find out more.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra —

Orchestrating Melbourne’s biggest band.

Sector —

Arts & Culture

We helped create —

Strategy, identity, art direction, print, digital, environmental, motion

We worked with —

Shara HendersonSirap

Founded in 1906, The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is Australia’s oldest orchestra, drawing the country’s most gifted musical talent into its company and earning high praise from local and international audiences. But despite the loyal following and widespread acclaim, MSO had to face up to the fact that its fan base was ageing and subscriber numbers were plateauing. It needed to start engaging a younger, more diverse audience.

To change the way that Melbourne perceived the MSO and take the organisation beyond its traditional classical niche, we proposed a complete rethink of the way that it presented itself to audiences, examining their audience segmentation, programming and communications. Working closely with the MSO’s marketing manager Alice Wilkinson and in-house designer James Rewell, we created a revolutionary new strategy and identity designed to redefine the organisation’s internal vision and external image.

Above —

A flexible grid system designed around the five staves lines of a music score

After thoroughly immersing ourselves in the MSO’s live performances, we realised the power of the orchestra to transport people on journeys of reflection and discovery. We saw the experience as an immersive, sensory and accessible human journey; not limited to an age bracket or social status. Together with the team at MSO, we set about translating these insights into a strategy and identity that would resonate with both the old and the new guard, while attracting previously untapped audiences.

Above —

The Creators performance at Cutler & Co. a coming together of craftsmanship, talent and tenacity.

A key part of this strategy was to reposition the MSO as an essential part of Melbourne’s cultural landscape, establishing partnerships with the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and collaborations with chefs Dan Hunter and Andrew McConnell. Through a series of dinners and performances that explored the bonds between food and music, we dismantled preceptions of stuffiness and inaccessiblity, introducing the orchestra to a receptive and culturally engaged new audience.

“We saw the experience as an immersive, sensory and accessible human journey”

After our identity was implemented, youth participation in MSO programs increased by 64 per cent, while audience attendance grew by almost 34 per cent. MSO’s Facebook following saw a boost of over 40 per cent, while its media presence increased by an impressive 87 per cent, including features in youth-oriented publications such as Broadsheet and Junkee.  

From the beginning, we were very clear that our work with MSO wasn’t just going to be a rebranding exercise. It was about changing the public’s perception and proving that orchestral performance is still a relevant art form and a worthwhile cultural experience in the digital age.