There are a few more ideas worth noting before I begin my (already started) sketches:
First is Puppetworks, a puppet theater in New York City. Though their website is sprawling and messy, the thing that caught my eye about this company is their single letter logo with a decent use of negative space to conjure joy and youth. Reminiscent of the Goodwill logo by Joseph Selame in 1960, Puppetworks has a good start to branding their troupe, if only they could apply it better to their collateral.
Next are a few identities that have used puppetry in their designs and art. This is a pretty slippery slope as there are probably ten thousand other brands that have done this that I’m not aware of, but these are one’s that I come back to time and time again. My primary example is The Godfather. Not only is there no literal puppetry in the film, the stylized illustration integrated into the form of the film’s logo adeptly communicates a bad situation, a dangerous involvement or otherwise evil, or complicated intent.
Another film that capitalizes on puppetry is Being John Malkovich. Not only a theme in the film, literally used as a device and certainly figuratively in the bizarre appropriation of another’s body through the use of a portal, puppetry is taken to the next level as a full immersive experience of an exterior host. One of the brand posters for the film uses simple paper paddles with Malkovich’s face on them over the faces of hundreds of people. Puppetry at its simplest and arguably finest.
One can’t really deny puppetry’s big hits on stage in the past couple decades, primarily The Lion King and Ave Q. The Lion King’s branding is a stark, simple and versatile mark that helps communicate the rough texture that the play uses to manifest its many African animals. Ave. Q jumps right out and slaps a photo of their motley characters in the branding, and leans heavily on the white on black Helvetica typography that is iconic of the New York Subway system, paired with fuzzy shape highly indicative of Hensonesque felt and hairy muppets. The Lion King comes with a suggestion of puppetry and a grandiose African patriotism to the mark, while Ave. Q wants you ready to know what you’re getting into, and that’s comedy with puppets, with a heavy overtone that it’s a form of dirty Sesame Street for adults.
A few more real puppet houses that I’ve found that have some form of branding, albeit with some undeveloped designs, are Spring Valley Puppet Theater, Puppet Blok, and Terrapin Puppet Theatre. Their branding is all pretty dark, and next to the previous designs we’ve seen I’m not sure there’s anything particularly new about them. Puppet Blok has gone the illustrative path, and it does conjure notions of fabric and a soft show. Spring Valley is a dark website bounded with examples of their puppets on black backgrounds; a decent idea since their puppets are inspiring, but without stronger branding they still seem short of a real identity. Terrapin is actually in Australia (where I’m finding they support puppetry as a whole much more than here in the U.S.) and they’re an interesting example, investing more than five minutes on their logotype. It appears they are a bit more of a show with costumes, but they already come off more professional than some former examples I’ve found.
There are certainly more out there, but none that are grabbing me or inspiring me to either reach their level or compete with their level. I suppose it’s an esoteric company and topic I’ve chosen this month, but that only means there’s room for seizing the market and coming up with something most relevant and memorable.