Hybrid 3 is a social enterprise which blends a fully-fledged professional recording studio complex with educational and arts projects. Their amazingly well-equipped recording studios, rehearsal rooms and audio production facilities are the go-to place for Sheffield’s musicians, but Hybrid3 also has a passion for developing local talent and providing community education…everybody deserves the chance to be heard!
Our task was to come up with a brand which covered the overall concept but also emphasised the two distinct halves of Hybrid3 which sometimes work apart and sometimes together. Then our concept would be tested fully by design and building a single website which did the job of the two previous, separate sites which had grown up around the two arms of the organisation.
After a fascinating series of ideas and concepts, we came up with a colour scheme and set of shapes which we worked into a brand for Hybrid3 (the overall organisation), Hybrid3 Pro (the music studios) and Hybrid Play (the educational side).
The colours of the main logo match the architecture and decor of the building, whilst the sub-logos are a single colour but echo the shapes of the main. This colour scheme becomes important on the website…
As Hybrid3 were familiar with WordPress, we decided it would speed things up and reduce the learning curve to use that as the content management system. We added WooCommerce for the merchandise shop and used a few custom-built Gutenberg blocks to give them a toolbox of pre-built elements they could draw on to quickly build new content.
Imagery was very important and the selection of large header photos and videos used were chosen especially for their colour and style, all supporting the brand.
The site needed to appeal to professional bands and musicians as well as educators and community groups. There was the danger that the style of a slick, cool, exclusive recording studio website mixed with a friendly, happy community site would jar badly and we needed to make sure both extremes met in the middle without compromising either. During the branding and site build, the one word which spanned over all of the parts of the business was “inspiration”. We needed to inspire people to create, whatever the reason they were at Hybrid3 and whatever their background or aspirations.
Video and large photos of real people actually creating and enjoying themselves in the Hybrid3 studios were a must, and formed a major part of the look of the site. Also, embeds from SoundCloud let visitors hear what is being made by Hybrid3’s users, so there is a feel of a working and busy organisation.
A recording studio is all about sound, so we also enabled the use of embeds from Soundcloud to showcase the huge range of work that is produced at Hybrid3.
Organising it All
Navigation-wise, the Pro and Play areas needed to both belong to the main site to avoid a confusing journey around the site, but also have a distinct feel of their own. There is a high chance that a visitor to the Pro area will never look at the Play area (or vice versa), so we needed to have common areas as well. Clever use of colour and content along with the specially commissioned copy also added to the uniform vs. separate feel we were trying to get across the site.
Hybrid3 work with the BBC and other arts organisations and it was important to show this to enhance the reputation of the studios.
Due to COVID-19, the studio was closed during much of the design and build work. Hybrid3 used this time to their advantage, being able to concentrate on a project which would have normally been interrupted by the day-to-day running of a business. This gave us the time to get all aspects of the site just right for a December 2020 soft launch, building momentum as the studios gear up to reopen at the start of 2021.