Sesame Street is one of the most well-known television shows of all time, first gracing the silver screen in 1969 and showing no signs of slowing down. What’s a bit lesser known is the Sesame Workshop, the show’s affiliated nonprofit that’s committed to providing support for kids beyond the lessons learned from the likes of Elmo and Big Bird.
Sesame Workshop recently underwent a brand revamp courtesy of New York-based design agency Trollbäck+Company, in an effort to level up their look and feel to reflect their important work. The brief was to develop a flexible and vibrant brand expression system that brings awareness to Sesame Workshop’s global mission and unites an ecosystem that spans 150 countries. The resulting system is bold and warm with a dash of experimentation, including a new logo, a recurring visual motif of connecting streets and intersections, and a youthful color palette.
Executive Creative Director at Trollbäck+Company, Rosie Garschina, led on the project in close collaboration with Victor Newman of the Sesame Workshop team. Both Garschina and Newman answered a few of my questions about the lively and fun redesign below.
What were your main goals for this redesign?
Newman: Sesame Workshop was born in the 1960s during the American civil rights movement. We’ve always been a nonprofit, mission-driven organization helping kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder. We’re best known for Sesame Street. The series has held a meaningful place in children’s and families’ hearts for over 50 years. We knew that a strong design and creativity could help us create deeper connections with kids, families, and fans— our multigenerational audience. Our goal was to elevate and unify the Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop brands domestically and globally.
Garschina: It was especially important that the design system grow awareness and provide clarity around Sesame Workshop’s nonprofit work. Their social initiatives tackle some of the biggest challenges children and families face. It was critical that we were bringing attention to this work.
What are the most important considerations to keep in mind when retooling a beloved legacy brand like Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop?
Newman: Sesame Workshop is a visionary and experimental organization, and everyone has a special connection with Sesame Street, whether it’s a favorite Muppet, a song, or a story. It’s an inviting place that is playful and joyful. Sesame Workshop and Sesame Street share the same DNA. The design had to truly reflect that.
Garschina: Providing clarity and distinction between Sesame Street and Sesame Workshop was an important consideration. The brands share the same DNA and are interconnected, but differ in terms of their focus. We had to be strategic in identifying which elements would unify as well as differentiate.
What elements of the redesign are you proudest of?
Newman: The refreshed identity leans into one of the most salient qualities of Sesame Street— that it feels like a real place; a safe space for children to learn, feel, grow, and explore. The Sesame Workshop logo adopted the right number of visual cues— such as the horizontal containers that nod to the Sesame Street sign— and is in alignment with our philanthropic work.
Garschina: The new design builds a flexible and vibrant brand system that brings awareness to Sesame Workshop’s global mission and unites an ecosystem spanning 150 countries. It will help Sesame Workshop reach its full philanthropic potential everywhere it works to help children, from Brooklyn to Ukraine. Working with Victor and the entire organization to drive their mission has been an enormous privilege.