Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is one of the nation’s most innovative contemporary art centers that expands and extends what an art center can be. Founded in 1993 as the cultural anchor of the Yerba Buena Gardens development, they serve the diverse and ever-evolving community that surrounds them. From their leading edge exhibitions, performances, and films, to their groundbreaking civic initiatives and community partnerships, YBCA is where creativity, people, and new ideas collide. Their mission is to generate culture that moves people, because they believe it’s the responsibility of arts organizations to spur and support major societal movements.
While YBCA is a new kind of art center, whose work spans the realms of art, civic engagement and public life, much of the San Francisco community knew them only as a venue or host for performances and events. There was a general lack of awareness around their vision and dedication to redefining what an art center can and should be, and this was at the core of the creative challenge we were asked to help solve through creating a new identity and communications strategy.
Beginning in late 2015, Manual worked with YBCA to transform all aspects of their visual and verbal identity and expand their reach and relevance for people everywhere. The twofold goal of the identity is to position YBCA as a leading-edge art institution—vibrant, active, vital, energetic—and communicate the organization’s belief that culture is a catalyst for social change.
At the heart of the identity is a new iconic logo—drawn from YBCA’s geographical site and a conceptual representation of the notion of expanding and extending. Across all communications the logo connects to visual content via a simple and flexible graphic system.
The verbal identity of YBCA is expressed in campaign communications that defines art as an active, participatory experience—thus enabling YBCA to establish themselves at the center of the conversation and effort to shape the city of San Francisco.
Working in collaboration with various departments we engaged in creative workshops and stakeholder interviews throughout the process to ensure we understood each team’s goals, and that the identity would support and amplify their work.
The visual identity and communications were brought to life across all touch-points including signage, exhibition graphics, brochures, posters, outdoor advertising, identity guidelines, and a new website created in partnership with Bureau for Visual Affairs.