The Writers Lab was launched in 2015 with the support of Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep in an effort to advance the opportunities for women in the film industry by generating material – screenplays – that genuinely speaks to the experiences of women, particularly women of age and wisdom.
Though modest in its activities, The Writers Lab has been very successful, and over the years a number of their alumni have gone on to become accomplished screenwriters. However, despite this success, the organization recognized that they could do more.
After a long assessment of TWL’s history of success, their current assets, and the challenges facing an ever-evolving film industry, we asked the question:
How can we amplify the impact of The Writers Lab and cultivate their network and expertise?
Through our assessment of the organization and a survey we conducted with workshop alumni, we found that the shared community of working women screenwriters defined who The Writers Lab was, and that this network was their most promising and underleveraged asset.
Beginning with the brands verbal identity, we identified inconsistencies in messaging and tone of voice, with the organizations online messaging lacking the strength and enthusiasm we heard from all parties with whom we spoke, and we explained that the logo and color palette were missing the opportunity to establish a distinct visual character and share the personality of the organization.
We broke down research conducted as part of a competitive audit, focused exclusively on organizations that target women, focus on writing, and are based in film and media. We determined that The Writers Lab’s offerings should be expanded and they must be ready and able to support their audience beyond scripts, to encompass other facets of professional screenwriting. And we strongly recommended the formation of a Board of Directors, which can help with potential partnership or fundraising ideas, which could strength their position in the market for potential audiences.
Beyond tactical changes to visual identity, offerings, messaging, and approach, we also identified a cultural shift in pop culture, politics, and the film industry since The Writers Lab’s founding, leading to our assertion that The Writers Lab sits at the crossroads of multiple identities. Despite the deeply rooted inequalities of sexism and ageism, the film industry offers a broad megaphone to change those realities, and we felt The Writers Lab is in a strategically unique and critical position to have a profound impact on that extends beyond film to the entire world.
In order to have that profound impact, we wanted The Writers Lab to better express their intentions in their positioning, messaging, and visual identity. We presented the following manifesto to capture the essence of their efforts and beliefs.
Based on everything we found in our discovery phase, coupled with insights from our own research, we began creating a new messaging strategy that sought to get at the core of The Writers Lab’s message and mission. We then wanted to better define who they are, specify their actions and goals, and broadcast where they are heading.
Finally, our visual team explored exactly what this would look like. We determined that brackets and parentheses, classic symbols of screenwriting, would represent The Writers Lab’s mission and commitment to inclusivity, clearly and succinctly, and we chose Courier to mimic the aesthetics of a script.
We created a dynamic, visual logotype to leverage the use of brackets in a playful, eye-catching way, and chose a dynamic color palette that is distinct and ownable within the industry. In combination with the flexible logo, the broad array of colors allows The Writers Lab to appropriately utilize their logo and color palette in a variety of circumstance, in ways that are versatile, coherent, distinct.
We believe that this new positioning and visual identity will give TWL an array of tools that better aligns with their breadth of ambition and their conviction in the power of screenwriting to shape our collective understanding of the human narrative.
Despite unprecedented challenges, the Masters in Branding Class of 2020 Honors project was completed and delivered entirely remotely, to great acclaim from The Writers Lab Co-Founders Elizabeth Kaiden and Nitza Wilon. A version of the project can be viewed online at thewriterslab.us