Reimagining Chickering Pianos for the 21st Century
This is a personally directed branding project, Inspired by an early 1900s Chickering Parlor Grand that our family was gifted. I found myself captivated by the rich history of Chickering, a leading piano manufacturer (now defunct) revered by legends like Franz Liszt. Inspired by the brand's profound influence on the piano industry and many of todays leading piano manufacturers, I embarked on a mission to reimagine Chickering for the 21st century. Follow along on the journey of revitalizing the Chickering Pianos brand, seamlessly blending its historical elegance with modern demands.
A new brand identity system and materials were meticulously designed to convey the heritage of Chickering pianos while envisioning it as a 21st-century innovator within the piano industry.
Identity / Logo Design
Brand Application Design
Brand Style Guide
Chickering Logo: Before / After
Established in 1823 by Jonas Chickering in Boston, Chickering & Sons rapidly became a dominant force in 19th-century piano manufacturing, renowned for innovations like the introduction of a cast-iron plate that elevated the instrument's quality. With accolades from international exhibitions and endorsements from luminaries like Franz Liszt, Chickering pianos secured a lasting legacy. Despite the closure of the original company in the early 20th century, the brand's vintage pianos remain prized collectibles.
Historical advertising materials that I found during this projects discovery.
A few years ago, a gift from my son's piano teacher, an early 1900s Chickering Parlor Grand piano, set in motion a journey that would inspire me to resurrect the echoes of a bygone era of musical excellence. As I delved into the rich history of Chickering, one of America’s finest piano manufacturers, I discovered a legacy that extended far beyond the keys of their pianos. The brand's influence not only shaped the industry but also left an indelible mark on the musical world. From their groundbreaking innovations to the praise bestowed upon them by some of the greatest pianists in history, Chickering's impact reverberated through time, shaping the foundations of today's leading piano brands.
Motivated by a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship and artistry embodied in Chickering pianos, I embarked on a mission to pay homage to this illustrious brand. My vision was to breathe new life into Chickering, envisioning it as a modern brand that seamlessly blends the elegance of its heritage with the demands and nuances of the 21st century. This case study documents the challenges, triumphs, and creative processes involved in the journey to revitalize Chickering pianos, exploring how a brand from the past can find resonance in the present and future of the musical landscape.
Reviewing inspiration including historic advertising materials from Chickering.
Designing a stylescape, a finely curated moodboard to inspire the design of the new brand identity.
A few of the scetches and initial directions I explored.
Fine-tuning the Nightingale icon.
During the logo design brainstorming phase, I explored various ideas aimed at capturing both elegance and musical essence. Many piano manufacturers use imagery such as a lyre, or blackletter wordmarks for their logos. How could I create something unique and unexpected? The concept of using a bird as an icon emerged as particularly inspiring early on. A pivotal moment in this decision-making process was the story of Chickering crafting a piano for the renowned Jenny Lind, also known as the Swedish Nightingale and a key figure in the musical "The Greatest Showman." The story told how Henry Steinway, who later became founder of the iconic Steinway and Sons piano company, was so captivated by the craftsmanship and quality of Chickering's piano during one of Lind's concerts that he nearly had to be escorted from the stage so that the concert could begin. This historical anecdote further underscored Chickering's profound impact on the industry, solidifying my choice to embrace the nightingale concept as a tribute to their legacy.
In addition to the updated logo, I wanted to explore the practical application of the brand. The following mockups illustrate how the Chickering brand can be seamlessly integrated into various real-life scenarios, offering a glimpse into its versatility.
Business Card Design
As the project's final step, I assembled everything into a thorough brand guidebook, mirroring the approach I take in my client brand design work. This centralized resource encompasses all elements, including brand logos, colors, typography, and more, ensuring cohesive and consistent brand usage.
Want to “pixel peep” my work?
For my fellow designery-types, I've made my work on the Chickering brand accessible for download. As someone who appreciates examining the intricacies of other designers' work, I wanted to share the output of this project with the world.
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