Case Study: Colourphill Amplifies Branding for Emerging Orchestra in Toronto

Case Study by Irina Khavlova RGD, Principal and Creative Director, Colourphill Design Inc.

The Sneak Peek Orchestra came to our attention through our production manager, Margaret Lam. As both a designer and the founding General Manager of the Toronto-based orchestra, Margaret recognized that a cohesive branding and marketing campaign was needed to take the ensemble of young musicians and emerging professionals to the next level. She also knew of Colourphill’s affinity for community outreach projects and brought the two together. Coming up with the name of the orchestra was the first of Margaret's many behind-the-scenes contributions.


Founded in August 2007 by conductor Victor Cheng and composer Kevin Lau (current Affiliate Composer at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra), the Sneak Peek Orchestra has been on a mission to foster an appreciation for classical music as a vibrant and living art form through the promotion of young musical talent. Their goal: to offer a ‘sneak peek’ into an exciting new generation of performers, composers, and conductors, all deeply committed to celebrating one of our oldest music traditions: the symphony hall.



Classical music is well established in Toronto through the programming of many major performing arts organizations. The Sneak Peek Orchestra wanted to reach out to audiences who are interested in enjoying classical music presented in a more intimate setting, without compromising the artistic experience. They also wanted to connect with emerging performers and composers who are looking for new ways to engage in their art.

Design Process
We embarked on a staged brand evolution, beginning with the design of a series of posters for upcoming concerts. This provided us with an opportunity to establish a visual and typographic vocabulary using graphic illustration and begin to introduce a new colour palette. A circle icon was also introduced to provide a visual link among communication platforms and build recognition of the brand. We then designed a website for the orchestra. After this, the group felt it was time to also update their logo. 



Our creative exploration for the Sneak Peek Orchestra logo focused on inviting audiences to take a ‘sneak peek’ into an exciting new generation of talent on the classical music scene. We retained the eye from the group’s existing logo, refining it to give it a more whimsical and modern look. The concept captures the musical experience by combining elements of sight and sound.


The logo inspired further refinement of the SPO identity, paving the way for a graphical, minimalistic look driven by typography, colour and geometry.




"Colourphill's design for Sneak Peek Orchestra helped usher in a new era for the group. Internally, it helped us hone in on what made our orchestra special - powerful sound, connection to young audience members and spontaneity that keeps the group fresh. 


By coming up with a stylized eye (signifying the 'sneak peek' into orchestral musicians of tomorrow) that branches out into curved lines (our sonic radiation out into the community), Colourphill developed a simple yet multi-layered design - one might say, there is more to it than meets the eye.


The logo is now instantly recognizable, along with our catchphrase: 'Hearing is Believing'. The group has since developed a new-found confidence in our mission of bringing fresh performances to life, and reached artistic heights we never thought possible." - Tim Crouch, Former Promotional Manager for Sneak Peek Orchestra. 


The Orchestra has performed at the Chinese Cultural Centre, the George Weston Recital Hall at the Toronto Centre for the Arts and the Al Green Theatre, with such prominent guest artists as Molly Johnston, Shauna Rolston and Rachel Mercer.


Designer Takeaways

  1. Make sure the client’s executive committee is comfortable with your studio’s design philosophy. Meet, show your work and explain how your vision and values match theirs.
  2. In the case of a brand revamp, recognize that the client may have a strong emotional attachment to the existing look, which may have been designed by a friend or family member. Assess their comfort level for change upfront. Are they ready for a design revolution, or would an evolutionary approach be better?
  3. Give the client a timeline and clearly outline the steps in the process. Some clients have never worked within a rigid framework and will need reminders and firm timelines to guide the process along.



Client Takeaways

  1. Make sure there is a personality and value match between you and the designers. A shared vision is key.
  2. Get acquainted with the creative and production cycle, and be open to being coached on how to best fit within the process.
  3. Keep talking to your team. The designer isn't there just to pull your program together; they are a communication and marketing partner.


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