Send in the Clowns: The Circus Rebranded and Reimagined
February 10, 2011 ‐ 3 comments

If we were to hold a contest to find the single word that at once inspires unbridled joy and abject horror, “clown” would undoubtedly make the short list. From the lovable cigar-chomping “King of Laughter” vagabond portrayed by Red Skelton to the malevolent mischief of the WWF’s Doink the Clown to the classically trained Auguste clown Fizbo from the television show Modern Family, clowns can bring about paroxysms of innocent laughter and coulrophobia-induced panic attacks in equal measure.mens club 24

And where there are clowns, a circus cannot be far behind.  Not the billion dollar aerial acrobatic contortions, underwater feats and erotically charged “Zumanity” of Cirque du Soleil, but the circus of Phineas Taylor Barnum with fire-breathers, buskers and a Congress of Freaks.

Yet how to make the circus relevant in a world of entertainment that spans from massively multiplayer online gaming (MMO) to myriad mobile media temptations?  It’s no surprise that instead of family fun, the circus now conjures up associations of farm animals, carnies, tacky tents, hucksters and the smells that come along with all of this atrociousness.  Net/net, the circus has no doubt lost its 1920s glamor and whimsical appeal.  What to do?  Rebrand! Redesign the tents, glitter up the animals, and take on a 21st century approach to marketing.

At least that’s what graphic design student Nathan Godding, from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco has attempted with his Sensational Circus Spectacular virtual rebrand of the circus for the current era.  We think he’s pulled it off.  From posters to popcorn bags, from commercials to logos and even the core messaging of the circus, Godding redesigned everything — and we mean everything — to be bright, pop, retro, whimsical and “Big Fish”-esque.

This new branding extends the life of the circus with color-marketing and geometric-overlapping to create illuminating and engaging pins, banner and posters with modern, cursive typography.  The logo brings in styles from older circus media, with flag-styled and old-western type.  The enlarged tongue-and-cheek “Admit One” adds the perfect touch of detail for that eager consumer waiting in line.

Godding’s branding can even transform for any and all marketing mediums as seen in these rich images.  Even the printed pattern on the tent brings on the excitement and entices the crowd.  The branding for this project exudes the idea of a triply, funky and unpredictable — but undeniably fun — event.

With a circus like this, we might be torn away from our iPads and pods, put down our virtual Call of Duty weapons and sign up for some good old-fashioned fun — nicely reimagined.  But we still always recommend eternal vigilance with respect to the clowns.

Editorial note:  We’re hardly the first to comment on the freshness of the Sensational Circus Spectacular.  The wizards at the dieline and Fast Company Design beat us to the punch, inter alia.

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Tweets that mention Send in the Clowns: The Circus Rebranded and Reimagined --
February 11, 2011 9:39 am
[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by BrandCulture Talk, Eric Pinckert. Eric Pinckert said: A fresh take on old-fashioned entertainment. The Circus, reimagined and rebranded [...]
Nathan Godding
February 11, 2011 1:47 am
Hi, I'm Nathan Godding, the designer of this piece. Thank you so much for the feature! Regarding KKinLA's comment, I was disturbed to learn all about the animal abuse that has been associated with the circus, so I chose to make this one animal-free.
February 10, 2011 3:01 pm
"a triply, funky and unpredictable — but undeniably fun — event." That is, until they start torturing the elephants!

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