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The Lion King


The Challenge

Disney’s The Lion King Broadway Show Logo Identity

Disney embarked on adapting their beloved animation hit “The Lion King” into a theatrical experience for Broadway Show lovers in New York City.  A collaboration with avant-garde designer Julie Taymor brought elements of the show together rapidly in a succession of a few weeks. 

Adapting the story of “The Lion King” for the Broadway stage brought with it the task of reflecting cultural aesthetics which empower the story while maintaining the powerful musical components created by Elton John from the animated film. 


The artistry of the costumes and unique set designs by Taymor mimic the African plains. Mudcloth fabrics and patterns, plains grasses, and ceremonial masks were all assembled giving the show a rich, earthy, reality based tone. 


Creating an iconic logo identity to convey the timeless nuances of “The Lion King” story in a single glance for in the crowded media landscape of Times Square, and beyond, was indeed tall order. 

The design process required a highly intuitive process of combining the unique artistry of the stage production, the depth of emotion brought forward in the musical score, and transforming these powerful emotional elements into a graphic visual that conveys the most powerful and memorable theme in “The Lion King Story”, “He Lives in You.”


Brand Identity   Messaging is Always On™


An Icon for a
Timeless Heroic Coming of Age Story

Logo design is a complex form of engineering. Graphic Designers are capable of aligning sight, sound, color, texture, light and forms into a highly distilled and powerful communication symbol.


A logo transmits the entire essence of the a brand story and evokes emotion in a single glance. An iconic logo has a timeless intrinsic feel and is instantly recognizable.  It is a treasure trove of high value for any brand property as it occupies hearts and minds while evoking positive emotions and love.


A Brand Identity Design Has Infinite Possibilities

Knowing the one solution that works best requires going through a process of discovering what doesn’t work.


Design is Discovery

Form Follows Function 

Fun with Purpose

The initial iterations of “The Lion King - Broadway Show” logo design were all drawn by hand before being re-drawn digitally. Disney provided a handful of press-released photographs of Julie Taymour's sketches, and the costumes and masks under construction on Broadway for reference. 


Masks were carved out of clay, there were sunset-warm earthy colors, a plethora of natural grasses, feathers and textures combined with vibrant African bogolanfini mud cloth patterns. 

Creating an iconic symbol with timeless appeal requires a highly intuitive design process of immersion and focus. We visited Santa Monica bookstores to pull accurate African pattern references, and actual African made mud cloth and bead designs.  Each reference displayed bold, primitive forms with uneven lines in their design, filled with textures and patterns;  all evidence of being tooled by hand. 


"I wanted to be surrounded by every essence of the show," said logo designer and art director, Mary Ellen Schrock. Every African tribal texture and graphic pattern we could find that resembled the photographs was tacked up on the walls."

Iconic masks and animal shapes were emerging as prominent forms from from all of the African graphic references It became evident that if the icon could resemble the Lion King mask it would resonate deeply and capture and convey the essence of the show.


A Timeless Story Always On™ 


A brand identity with world-wide appeal for a story translated into 9 languages and incorporating 6 indigenous African languages in lyrics and dialogue.



Getting to the balanced icon design that captured the essence of the show "took many versions," says Mary Ellen. "We presented four rounds with hundreds of different versions and revisions. Disney typically explores every option to get to the undoubtable winner, the "one." 


Another influencing factor in the logo creation was the show music. But the music from the show was still in production and unavailable as a recording. "I managed to find a copy of a CD, "The Rhythm of the Pridelands", said Mary Ellen, "which featured African singers performing acappella versions of songs in the musical."

One song in particular stood out as being very powerful, " 'He Lives In You'. When I heard the song acappella," she said, "the African voices were so other worldly and harmonic. It lifted me and gave me chills; absolutely sensational!


I was working on the Lion King face shape and expression. And reviewing the nuances of the form and expression with the music playing gave me a sense of this elevated feeling.  


Moments like this signal the logo is resonating the core essence and the message of the story. It's alignment with the story's true meaning and purpose and a really powerful and pure aspect of design that I love."


Get in touch to learn about the Always On™ Brand Identities we’re creating for Warner Bros, Discovery, Coca-Cola,  Disney and more 



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