Northern Sky Theater

We have got a great case study of the work we did for a theater in Northeast Wisconsin, Northern Sky Theater. They wanted to have a completely redesigned website for the 2020 season. We first had an initial consulting session to dig into their unique needs. Keep in mind, this was all pre-COVID. We later pivoted to during COVID because their season went from 100% in person to a 100% online season in a matter of months.

Collaborating on Strategy

Once we were hired for the projects, we conducted a three hour strategy session with their stakeholders. There was A LOT of energy in that meeting with a group of musicians, actors and creative talent! The meeting was on-site at the Northern Sky facility in Fish Creek and we did have three or four people join us virtually over Zoom.

Brand Attributes & Statement

We brainstormed different words that we thought described Northern Sky Theater, and placed them together to create our brand statement.

Understanding the Community

We wanted to understand exactly who Northern Sky's patrons are. We had so much fun coming up with customer personas to represent these patrons.

At Northern Sky Theater we strive to provide a genuine, one-of-a-kind theater experience.

Our goal is to illuminate untold stories and inspire a feeling of joy and belonging in everyone of our family of generous enthusiastic patrons.

Diagnosing Challenges


The staff was concerned that guests would drive to the wrong location. They had a brand new $8M indoor theater built and it was going to be the first time in 25 years where there would be two different venues for guests. The location of their office had also changed. They wanted to make it simple and clear that people can find out where to go.

Easier way to Buy Tickets Online

Logistically things were going to be more complex with two different venues instead of just one. They were offering many more theater productions than in previous years, and therefore needed the new website to reflect the different choices without confusing guests.

Recommending a Visual Direction Stylescapes

A stylescape is a visual “design blueprint” that we are proposing. This is essentially a visual representation of the thinking we’ve done to match the needs of the customer personas that were discussed during the strategy phase.

We present three different stylescapes to give variety. The stylescapes are presented as “Mild”, “Medium” and “Spicy” to explore different versions of the same goal.

The team at Northern Sky Theater liked different elements of all three Stylescapes we had come up with, but there wasn't one perfect fit. So, we combined what they liked and created a fourth Stylescape that really encapsulated all that Northern Sky stands for.

Executing the Solution

Using Design, Shapes, Custom Icons and Color to Help with WayFinding
To make it easy for people across all demographics to understand the differences in the venues, we designed custom icons to represent the indoor theater versus the outdoor theater.
We used different color combinations and shapes to make the difference very obvious.

Outdoor Park Theater
Indoor Gould Theater

Providing a Clear way to See all Events in each Venue
We understood that visitors to the theater wanted an easy way to see what theater performances are available throughout the season, but also what is going to be playing “tonight”. We created a homepage design that showed what the next five upcoming performances were playing. This was to help the last-minute planners find easily what was playing, what venue it was located in, and what time.

We also provided an Events Page dedicated to showing all theater events for the entire season. This was done in a two column format so that visitors can easily see the mini-Playbills in each theater (Indoor Theater, Outdoor Theater). We customized a calendar to make it easy for visitors to also see a calendar view of what events were upcoming.

Crafting a Robust Identity

Custom Iconography
We needed something a bit playful to add to the site in order to complete the look. One of our design team members came up with the idea of custom icons using the color scheme that represented the Indoor and Outdoor theater. These icons are really just a template for the client, and gives them unlimited potential to create more.

Ensuring Consistency
After all that hard work, we of course want to make sure the branding stays consistent through all marketing mediums. We provided Northern Sky Theater with a Style Guide. This would guide all future marketing endeavors and provide all of the assets they need to maintain it. This guide will allow them to work with other designers in the community while still keeping their new brand identity in tact for years to come.