News.

People walking through mall courtyard at sunset at Manhattan Village
Education
November 30, 2021

Finding Your Voice in the Crowd

From Miami to Morocco, RSM Design has adapted our branding process as the world refocused its lens in the commercial real estate markets. The pandemic continues to shape shift our relationship with one another and the spaces we share, and because of this, communities, retailers, and developers are responding to a new paradigm. These changes are seen through a shift in community values, meaningful person to person connections, and carefully considered spaces. Ultimately, people are the soul, the vitality, and the purpose for environments in which we thrive.

EXPLORING REDEVELOPMENT VS. REPOSITIONING VS. REBRANDING 

From Miami to Morocco, RSM Design has adapted our branding process as the world refocused its lens in the commercial real estate markets. The pandemic continues to shape shift our relationship with one another and the spaces we share, and because of this, communities, retailers, and developers are responding to a new paradigm. These changes are seen through a shift in community values, meaningful person to person connections, and carefully considered spaces. Ultimately, people are the soul, the vitality, and the purpose for environments in which we thrive. 

We believe that change is rooted in innovative ideas that work to make peoples’ lives better. RSM Design is committed to changing our communities by designing brands and spaces that reflect stories of the human experience. Our role, now more than ever, is to explore how we are able to creatively communicate these narratives in unique and memorable ways to build the brands of the future.

As we shift further towards a people-centric future, redevelopment has triggered a conversation on how new ideas in programming, leasing, events, and artful moments can create delightful experiences. People are craving shared, authentic moments, and a common branded voice is essential in communicating these messages. Ultimately, a brand must deliver at every level of a project to successfully capture the hearts and loyalty of a market. Delivering an honest and truthful story is critical to the initial buy-in.

Today, we are collaborating with architects, developers, and communities to ask the big question: how will this project be meaningful, competitive, and innovative in our market? 

At RSM Design, our team is developing brands that are redefining their markets across all sectors, from mixed-use communities to innovation districts and everything in between. In our brand tool-kit we see the following directives that are driving design conversations with our clients: 

  1. Redevelop
  2. Reposition
  3. Rebrand

A new story that needs to be told.

Redevelopment of a neighborhood mixed-use icon

In the years leading up to the pandemic, RREEF (a unit of the German Deutsche Bank) and managing partner of JLL underwent a $180 million dollar redevelopment project at Manhattan Village. In order to compete with newly built outdoor boutique competitors, the mixed-use hub needed a comprehensive revamp. Seated on 44 acres, the site would be remodeled to create a central green coined “the living room” that would bring the heart of the project outdoors. In addition to a new leasing strategy and renovations to the existing buildings, the project was poised to reposition itself as the casual luxe, social hub with a soul for the region. 

A revised vision and brand was critical in telling the new story of Manhattan Village. RSM Design evolved the existing vision (originally begun by CallisonRTKL), brand, and signage design (while collaborating with AO) to give the space a voice uniquely its own. 

Since the project renovation straddled pre- and post-pandemic, the brand process required innovative ideas that embraced new conversations. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the discovery of simple pleasures, of a life that values community, and our sense of belonging in the world is what inspired our tone for the brand. We stripped it down, lightened the character, and reimagined a palette and voice that reflects a serene and coastal destination. The architectural details as well as marketing and leasing narrative also mirror the brand voice– telling a unified story that resonates with the attitude of surrounding beach cities.

Building an Innovative Brand.

Repositioning of a campus to celebrate science & nature

What happens when your market no longer aligns with your brand’s promise, mission, or values? That’s when a repositioning is needed.

Repositioning a project focuses on redefining the brand promise, character, values, and intended brand message. It’s not only about how the brand appears from the outside, but also what it communicates from the inside– how it makes us “feel”.

In San Diego, our design team is working alongside Longfellow Real Estate Partners, LLC on the repositioning of Biovista. Longfellow acquired a two-building project in the Sorrento Mesa region– a booming district for science and technology. A former office site lacking modern amenities, the team saw an opportunity to transform the space into a life science campus to reflect where the market is heading.

The process behind the brand positioning included a new name, redefining the mission and values, creating a visual brand mark, and integrating modern amenities and programming.

The repositioning was successful for Biovista because it refocused the project on the market’s current needs. The transformation lent itself to attracting a new and vibrant tenant mix. Ultimately, the new vision positions Biovista as a premier life science campus in the competitive San Diego region.

A Brand that Captivates Our Senses.

Rebranding of a Los Angeles social hub

Rebranding is the concept of changing the visual look of a brand. This strategy includes altering elements of the brand kit of parts, such as a logo. Organizations may choose to rebrand themselves after their graphics become outdated or the brand no longer aligns with a specific message or project goal. A brand mark, whether it's a symbol or typographic logo, is the visual display of what a brand stands for. It’s critical that the brand image holds meaning and relevance to the desired market.

Formerly known as The Promenade at Howard Hughes Center, an acclaimed retail destination at its opening but over time lost popularity due to neighboring retail competitors, recently underwent a rebrand and our design team was invited to rebrand this Los Angeles center. The first step of the brand strategy was to rename the site to HHLA, a shorter and catchier name, then provide a contemporary aesthetic through a brand kit of parts.

The successful repositioning captures the spirit of both Howard Hughes’ legendary status, and the modern Los Angeles collective in a fresh new way. Through vibrant graphics and a modern and ever-changing logo the brand exemplifies a recognizable brand that’s inspired by the thriving life and culture of the City of Los Angeles. The visual brand is uniquely integrated into the physical environment due to its flexible nature and we designed a variety of signage with different scales and materials, all while keeping a consistent brand language.

At the end of the day, redeveloping, repositioning, and rebranding, are critical stages in the reimaging of a community or project and its program. Projects that focus on how to maintain relevance will always have the power to drive change, and we are excited to partner with brands who offer the best tools for that change to happen.


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Aerial image of evening at San Ysidro Port of entry as cars wait to pass thru the border.
Press
November 17, 2021

San Diego and Tijuana Announced as the World Design Capital 2024

Recently, the World Design Organization (WDO)® designated San Diego (USA) and Tijuana (Mexico) as the first binational region for the World Design Capital 2024. These cities are recognized for their commitment to human-centered design and a legacy of cross-border collaboration.

Recently, the World Design Organization (WDO)® designated San Diego (USA) and Tijuana (Mexico) as the first binational region for the World Design Capital 2024. These cities are recognized for their commitment to human-centered design and a legacy of cross-border collaboration.

World Design Organization (WDO)®  is an international non-governmental organization and the international voice for industrial design. Every two years, the WDO selects a place to be named the World Design Capital. The destination must effectively use design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development. It is an honorable recognition that embodies how design is a powerful tool in communities and the built environment.

The recent announcement of the WDO’s selection of San Diego and Tijuana as the World Design Capital has sparked a great amount of excitement and inspiration in our studio. For decades now, RSM Design has collaborated on a multitude of environmental graphic design projects in the San Diego region, including the San Ysidro Border Crossing which connects southern San Diego to Tijuana, Mexico. We are humbled to contribute to the success of design in San Diego and are extremely excited that the World Design Organization has placed such a remarkable honor on the destination.

Here are a few of the past, present, and up and coming projects that RSM Design has had the joy to be involved with in San Diego:

San Ysidro Port of Entry

As the largest land border crossing between San Diego and Tijuana, and the fourth-busiest land crossing in the world, it was critical for RSM Design to approach the San Ysidro Port of Entry project with a human-centered design approach. The design team worked to develop a color-coded set of icons and bilingual information to create a legible and consistent layout for wayfinding at the site. A key aspect of the design process was several stakeholder workshops in which the designers engaged with community leaders and members of the public to address the needs at the border crossing. During those guided conversations, the team studied the overall feelings towards the former destination. Attributes such as confusing and unsafe bubbled to the surface, making it clear to the team that the wayfinding signage would need to create clarity at the site– ultimately leading to a safer overall environment.

Balboa Park Signage Masterplan

In 1835, Balboa Park in San Diego was designated as one of the country’s oldest historical sites for public recreational use. Today, the destination draws over 10 million visitors a year, and with a large number of guests, there was a strong need for a comprehensive signage and wayfinding system. RSM Design collaborated with several stakeholders for Balboa Park to conduct a full site analysis of existing signage, identify areas for improvement, and craft new design guidelines for signage and wayfinding at the park. The messaging is simple yet modern, historically inspired, and overall contributes to providing an enhanced guest experience.

UC San Diego Dining Hall at Sixth College

UC San Diego is nestled in the seaside town of La Jolla and just 15 miles from downtown San Diego. The four-year university is one of the world’s leading public research universities and has rapidly grown in number of students over the past few years. RSM Design was invited to craft several new brands– including logo designs and signage for the built environment– for a new dining hall located on campus. The ultimate goal was for each dining venue to feel like its own uniquely branded restaurant, while also paying close attention to an aesthetic appealing to a diversity of students and faculty.

The RaDD

One of the studio’s latest San Diego based projects is RaDD: The Research and Development District located in downtown San Diego. Once built, the space will have panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and feature a life science campus, lab spaces, retail, dining, and places for the community. The project comes out of a booming need for science and technology spaces in San Diego, as the region welcomes a large number of biotech brands. Currently, the design team is crafting a brand and logo design for The RaDD as well as future wayfinding and environmental graphics. The design character is inspired by science and nature while also implementing ideas about community and connectivity. 

 In addition to these four projects, see our complete list of San Diego projects.

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Architectural graphic design on a building facade in Nashville.
Education
September 29, 2021

Innovation in Architectural Graphics Today

Architecture can be seen as both a canvas and an opportunity for storytelling. The synergistic relationship and importance of graphic design in architecture gives a building and its users the chance to connect with the context of a community by weaving in a unique graphic language. Architectural graphics express meaning and purpose in an immersive and engaging way, the focus is consistently on the relationship of architectural graphics to community, culture, history, and emotion. In this article, we look at what is happening today with environmental graphics, retail experience design, and the importance of placemaking design. People want to see architecture as a reflection of their community and it is often times through this layering of graphics where these feelings manifest. Here we will examine some of the ways communities around the world are using graphics in architecture to express their unique personalities.

Architecture can be seen as both a canvas and an opportunity for storytelling. The synergistic relationship and importance of graphic design in architecture gives a building and its users the chance to connect with the context of a community by weaving in a unique graphic language. Architectural graphics and their interdependence with two- and three-dimensional designs express meaning and purpose in an immersive and engaging way.

RSM Design’s current series of articles, as well as our new book (Graphic Connections in Architecture), focus on the relationship of architecture and graphics, and how our team works at the intersection that weaves both together. Our focus is consistently on the relationship of architectural graphics to community, culture, history, and emotion.

In our last article, we talked about the origins of architectural graphics throughout history, beginning with a survey of graphics interventions from antiquity. In this article, we look at what is happening today with environmental graphics, retail experience design, and the importance of placemaking design.

Check out On the Origins of Architectural Graphics

A Look at Graphics in Architecture Today

Today, many graphic installations into architecture focus on context, culture, and emotion. People want to see architecture as a reflection of their community and it is often times through this layering of graphics where these feelings manifest. Here we will examine some of the ways communities around the world are using graphics in architecture to express their unique personalities.

Fifth + Broadway

In the very heart of Nashville, across from the renowned Ryman Auditorium, is Fifth + Broadway... the epitome of a true mixed-use development and microcosm of the city. Rooted in heritage, influenced by culture, and designed for the people, Fifth + Broadway both preserves what makes Nashville great and looks towards its future. Boldness is a key word to describe this community and the graphic layer seen there. Dynamic neon signage and other original installations speak to the seamless relationship of graphics to architecture.

Fifth + Broadway uses landmarking elements that help people get where they need to go, but they’re strategically layered into the architecture to tell a story and represent the community.

The wayfinding and signage are all in the context of the culture. The graphics originated with music posters, offset printing, and block printing—all the origins were derived from a sense of place, history, and community. These bold signage graphics guide visitors, tell stories, and serve in functionality.

Moscow Riviera

The Moscow Riviera is a two-million square foot mixed-use development that has become a high value destination within central Moscow. Working with the interior and exterior signage graphics, the RSM Design team echoed the bold elegance of the people, nature, and surrounding area.

This development is an ideal example of how architectural graphics as pattern becomes an integral part of the architectural expression. In our first article in this series, we revealed how pattern is not just ornamentation, but is a traditional technique of experiential design. At Moscow Riviera, you’ll notice the same elements being used in the architectural graphics to create a similar synergy, but it’s completely modern and a reflection of this progressive community and location.

Rosemary Square

When you look at Rosemary Square in West Palm Beach, Florida, you’ll see a diverse area of experiential retail and culinary offerings. You will also notice the robust arts and cultural programs, making this a truly exceptional new district to live, work, and visit in south Florida.

Through the use of architectural façade graphics, the buildings were enhanced to be more engaging and reflective of the vibrant local arts culture. What adds to the soul of this place are the layered patterns and cultural references that provide contextual vibrancy to the guest experience. These economically produced and impactful façade patterns and mural installations transformed the district into a new dynamic environment.

Hofgarten Shopping Center

The city of Solingen, Germany, is known for its knife and cutlery production—it’s even called the City of Blades.  

The Hofgarten Center celebrates Solingen’s knife and cutlery production, among other unique elements that reflect the region by inspiring the origins of the graphic language. The graphics also weave comfortably with the modern architecture, utilizing themes of nature, industry, and fashion, to blur the lines between what is architecture and what is graphic enhancement. The relationship between the graphics and architectural patterns makes the façade, for example, feel bold and impactful. Additionally, throughout the building, visitors encounter playful surprises that make walls look like they disappear, skylights with interesting dynamic and ever-changing light features, and bold unexpected patterning in the parking areas.

From the front door to the parking lot, Hofgarten Center uses architectural graphics as wayfinding tools to turn a building into a surprisingly strong representation of the community.

LBX: Long Beach Exchange

Long Beach Exchange is all about the engaging the guest with specialty graphics.

The custom graphics help to create many different expressions of the site’s origins and culture. It complements the architecture in a positive way, making a statement about the community: It’s okay to be original and stand out here. Inspired by the local culture and laid back vibes of the community, the architectural graphics have turned into Insta-worthy moments of surprise and whimsy.

Pacific City

Did you know that Pacific City was the original name of what is now Huntington Beach, CA? That’s what makes it such a perfect name for this city’s shopping and dining epicenter. And the Pacific City narrative is inspired by and overtly reflects the culture of the community—Surf City, USA.

When the project was being built, the property installed temporary barricade graphics to give visitors something engaging to look at while the stores prepared to open. These murals reflected the local surf culture and history, and they quickly became popular with the community. However, when the stores were ready to open, the murals came down. And the community questioned what had happened. Visitors had identified with the artwork so strongly that they asked the developer to bring them back. Shortly after, the murals became permanent installations.

What was intended to be a temporary expression of Huntington Beach’s culture was embraced and permanently adopted by the community. The murals used graphics in architecture to communicate the area’s history and spirit. What seemed like a temporary fix turned out to be something completely beloved.

Looking Forward: The Evolutions of Digital Experience Design

Given how today’s graphics in architecture and wayfinding design trend toward community-focused context, culture, and emotion, what does that tell us about where things are going? Can we accurately predict the future of architectural graphics and wayfinding?

No, but it sure is fun to speculate.

It all comes down to the individual. Many people seem to be attached to their smartphones—it’s how they navigate. Will “traditional” forms of wayfinding be as critical in the future with our reliance on the digital expansion?

Digital components in signage are not new…they have been around for quite some time, so that’s not what we’re talking about. It’s more about how wayfinding and graphics will become greater user focused. We will be exploring how wayfinding will become more intuitive and less reliant on traditional signage methods, instead turning to virtual engagement of the space.

We’re seeing how signage technology is shifting. For example, we're using technology that produces LED glass or digital nodes to transform any surface...into a sign, an image, a pattern, another façade. We're seeing digital graphic façades that generate their own power or other sustainable initiatives, becoming more multi-functional and more inherent with the architectural expression.

Will all of this outdo traditional models of wayfinding? Most likely not. Instead, it will enhance them. As buildings become digitally smarter, they will inherently evolve to do more, but we will always use the graphic layer of buildings to convey culture, community, and context.

Next: The Future of Environmental Graphic Design

Right now, culturally, it feels like we’re in a similar spot when compared to the country after the 1918 flu pandemic, which ushered in the roaring 20s. With the anticipation of a reopening and return to normalcy, people are looking for comfort and confidence, while also craving new experiences. How will this change the impact of environmental graphics and experience design?

It starts by blending smart technology with wayfinding in a way that helps people feel comfortable about getting back and learning how to experience travel, dining out, and being with the community again. We’ll get back to digging into the future of graphics in architecture in the third installment of this series. For more information, check out our companion book, Graphic Connections in Architecture, to this article series.

Graphic Connections in Architecture by RSM Design
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Applied window graphics assisting in room identification
Education
Project Updates
September 21, 2021

Spark Delight through Healthcare Signage Design

RSM Design creates identity, wayfinding strategy and design programs that address the unique challenges and opportunities within the healthcare sector. Whether for a hospital campus, wellness center, or education campus, RSM Design begins with the end in mind, developing a meticulous and thorough research, strategy and design platform. Our team creates architectural graphic design solutions that are both functional and innovative, providing a sense of ease and comfort to visitors and patients, focusing on improving the current state of health and wellness environments.

Designing Healthcare Environments Based in Human Needs

RSM Design creates identity, wayfinding strategy and design programs that address the unique challenges and opportunities within the healthcare sector. Whether for a hospital campus, wellness center, or education campus, RSM Design begins with the end in mind, developing a meticulous and thorough research, strategy and design platform. Our team creates architectural graphic design solutions that are both functional and innovative, providing a sense of ease and comfort to visitors and patients, focusing on improving the current state of health and wellness environments.

Image credits: Dugoni School of Dentistry and Jon Draper

Designing an Individual Health Journey

A strategy rooted in a ‘people-first’, holistic needs journey allows us to diagnose before we prescribe a solution that creates a future state understanding before we put pen to paper. Through the use of interviews, outreach and workshops our team is able to facilitate a design process that identifies the potential health journeys and all the points of brand or wayfinding needs along those paths. These touchpoints allow us to step into the shoes of the patient, family or staff to build an intuitive path to follow, ensuring that the guidance is more than a point A to B experience. Our goal is to utlize the following principles to create a cognitive map of one’s journey:


• Transform the patient experience into a guest experience (Hospitality Quotient - HQ)

• Friendly, inviting, comfortable (tap into other human needs)

• Engaging each journey as a personal approach to design and sensitivity

• Fundamental aspects of human needs

• Heightened sensitive, stress or unsuredness level

Reflecting Brand Values and Voice

Each healthcare provider, educational campus or private facility has a brand identity that must be woven into the patient (guest) journey. These brand defining touch points along paths of decision-making must reflect the values and voice of that brand to the patient, family or staff. The logo, core values and brand promise are both tangible and intangible elements that immediately create a perception of care, thoughtfulness and comfort within an environment. Our creative team creates wayfinding and master signage systems that carry the institution’s brand identity throughout the healthcare campus and makes a potentially stressful visit to a relaxing and empowering experience. Through creative placemaking and environmental graphic design, RSM Design transforms even the most confusing or complicated healthcare spaces into engaging guest experiences. We have developed a methodology for these touchpoints we like to call: CERTAINTY, VARIETY AND DELIGHT


CERTAINTY

Within every environment one must have a level of certainty to confirm that one has arrived to one’s destination or that you are indeed on the right path. As we all know, if life has too much certainty, even in a healthcare setting, the feeling of a sterile and systemic care environment is pervasive, hence the need for a bit of uncertaintly or variety.

Consistency to provide a sense of certainty that you are on the right path. Image Credit: Jon Draper

VARIETY

Our goal is explore the variety of the environment and its paths within an experience to replace a sign with something memorable, a landmark that can identify a destination, decision point or a place of rest. Within a patient journey there are many points where you must identify, inform, direct or remind someone of where they are in their journey. We call this cognitive mapping where we must help create a mental map to allow an understanding of where I am, where I am going and how do I get back. Layering variety within this allows us to create memorable moments whether that is a colored wall or an amazing curated artful element so that place becomes a mental landmark.

Color and landmarks to help provide variety for the journey. Image Credit: Jon Draper

DELIGHT

Another important ingredient we explore in wayfinding is DELIGHT. We understand that the majority of healthcare experiences come with an element of anxiety, stress and fear. Our goal is to align our strategy and design to occur in parallel with those feelings to counteract and encourage the need for comfort to be fulfilled. We all crave delight even in the most difficult of times in our life. Delight can be an ingredient to aid in overcoming these trials by creating quiet, energy, surprise or even humor along one’s path.

Detail of graphic letters include a fun discovery. Image Credit: Jon Draper
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Exploring the Brand Connection with Cody Clark and Suzanne Redmond Schwartz
Education
August 4, 2021

Exploring the Brand Connection

Cody Clark and Suzanne Redmond Schwartz, Principals at RSM Design, team up for an in-depth conversation on the branding process, finding design inspiration, and leadership in our design studio. They share their personal experiences on what influences their design process, how they find inspiration, and how designers in all stages of their career can continue to grow and expand their knowledge. Then the process of creating a brand vision and logo design is shared through the lense of branding & logo for Miami Baywalk's 5-mile waterfront trail that is space for the community to gather. Cody and Suzanne explain what they call, “the return to great design.” An examination of branding trends from print, to digital, to architectural and what those collections of elements become when you add people.

Join Cody Clark and Suzanne Redmond Schwartz, Principals at RSM Design, as they team up for an in-depth conversation on the branding process, finding design inspiration, and leadership in our design studio.

Part 1: Finding Design Inspiration

Cody and Suzanne share their personal experiences on what influences their design process and how they find inspiration, even when a creative wall hits.

Part 2: Growth and Education for Designers

How would you describe a growth mindset? We believe it’s about an open-minded perspective that isn’t fearful of making mistakes. In this second episode, Cody and Suzanne discuss how designers in all stages of their career can continue to grow and expand their knowledge.

Part 3: Creating a Brand with Meaning

In part 3 of the conversation, Cody and Suzanne take a look at the process of creating a brand vision and logo design. Our team partnered with city stakeholders and community leaders in Miami, Florida to develop a comprehensive brand for Miami Baywalk, a 5-mile waterfront trail that will connect along Biscayne Bay and provide a space for the community to gather.

Part 4: Branding and Design Trends Happening Today

Cody and Suzanne discuss what they call, “the return to great design.” We’re examining branding trends all the way from digital to the environment and design evolutions that are happening today and into the future.

Part 5: Leadership in Our Design Studio

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has rocked almost every part of our world today. Many businesses and organizations have felt the impact of the global pandemic and economic crisis. In this part of our conversation, Cody and Suzanne examine what it means to lead a team during challenging times.

Learn more about RSM Design’s Branding and Logo Design process.
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Branding and Logo Design for HHLA in Los Angeles by RSM Design.
Education
July 26, 2021

5 Key Strategies for Building a Brand

As a people-focused team of designers, we believe that our mission is to work sensitively with communities, developers and dreamers to craft engaging brands that foster meaning for their audiences. Now looking to reboot our economies, communities, and environments, we must first identify the essential design principles that get brands back on track. Suzanne Redmond Schwartz and Cody Clark, Principals and brand design experts at RSM Design, discuss the 5 key strategies for building a successful brand. ‍Discovering your brand requires an in-depth process of examining several components of your story.

It is no secret that our world has changed over the past 18 months.

Across the globe we have seen our families, communities and places of work be altered by Covid-19, social injustices, and economic challenges. These obstacles are shaping communities' responses to development, design, and ultimately the creation of healthy and meaningful spaces to gather, reconnect and rebuild lives.

As a people-focused team of designers, we believe that our mission is to work sensitively with communities, developers and dreamers to craft engaging brands that foster meaning for their audiences.

Now looking to reboot our economies, communities, and environments, we must first identify the essential design principles that get brands back on track. Suzanne Redmond Schwartz and Cody Clark, Principals and brand design experts at RSM Design, have teamed up for a conversation on how to build a strong brand.

How you discover your brand requires an in-depth process of examining several components of your story. These essential pieces to your brand strategy are: your vision, audience, mission, core values, and personality.

1. Uncovering An Authentic Brand Vision

A vision is no longer an afterthought. Today, it’s an essential first step in explaining your promise to your market. This means that the thoughtful and impactful brands stand out. These brands ultimately drive positive market positioning, loyalty, and economic success.

To begin the brand process, it is critical that you articulate what your organization stands for. We believe that “beginning with the end in mind” your team must ask those big questions to evaluate and ultimately define your DNA.

At our branding firm, we tackle this inside-out process by engaging the community through surveying experiences and leading a guided conversation. Establishing a clear vision is the first step towards a sustainable and engaging brand. 

Located in Los Angeles, HHLA is an iconic venue for entertainment. The vision for this project was rooted in crafting a destination designed for foodies, film buffs, families, tourists and adventure seekers. By first creating the groundwork for the brand story, our team was then able to transform HHLA into a branded environment that speaks to the life and culture of Los Angeles.

HHLA in Los Angeles, California

2.  Captivate your Target Audience

Behind every great brand experience is a loyal following. A powerful brand is a mirror that reflects your market. Defining your audience allows you to position a brand in a voice that directly appeals to a group’s desires and needs.

There are several factors to consider about an audience including: age, gender, income, values, lifestyle, and other organizations they connect with. In our team’s experience, individuals often gravitate towards brands that have a unique character and a strong point-of-view. People prefer brands that they can identify with at a deeper level.

Recently, our design team worked alongside the University of California, San Diego to craft a visual brand and logo design for Hospitality Information. The project’s mission is to make life easier for the university community by providing access and tools to students, faculty and guests on campus with day-to-day questions. Essentially, they wanted to turn the concierge service into a branded experience.

By utilizing a people-centered design approach, this allowed the design team to navigate the complexity of such a service. With a specific attention on the community, the identity design for the service emerged by focusing on clarity. Implementing branded touch points encourage guest interaction and speak directly to the audience. 

Hospitality Information at University of California, San Diego

3. Define Your Organization’s Mission

In order to create a brand that has meaning and relevance, it’s vital to understand your mission statement. What is the why behind what you do?

Our team is working on the branding behind the new Petersburg Park. The park stretches beyond simply being a piece of the landscape. It’s desire is to serve as a brand experience that reimagines what the city’s fabric and community will look like for future generations. It’s an inspiring place that honors people of all economic status and cultural backgrounds.

In the early days the site was home to a thriving neighborhood. But in the 1980’s, residents and business owners were evicted, and the entire community was bulldozed for the development of a baseball stadium. Since 2016, The City of St. Petersburg has been working on plans to redevelop the area once again. This time with a different goal in mind: honor the place’s past and restore a destroyed community.

By understanding the organization’s mission, our team is able to create a visual identity that clearly communicates the brand story and in turn develops brand awareness. Utilizing environmental graphic design and signage applications that reflect the identity system, the park will be transformed from an abandoned site to a landmark rich with culture.

4. Define Your Brand Beliefs And Values

Brand values are the foundational principles on which a company stands. Your core values should ultimately reflect your brand mission. This allows your brand to become memorable and consistent, as well, it also builds trust and enables brand loyalty.

In Southern California, Liberty Station is a living brand that has held true to its core values since the beginning of its time. Grounded in military tradition, the San Diego site was first developed as a Naval Training Center. Today, Liberty Station thrives as a revitalized place for the community to gather, dine, shop, and engage with art. It is also a space to honor the destination’s historical story. 

Our team worked to create an identity package which reflects the project’s values and inspires the neighborhood. By identifying three main core values (History, Future, and Community) the design team crafted a set of graphic symbols that ultimately blended to create the visual logo mark.

Liberty Station in San Diego, California

5.  Live Out Your Brand’s Personality

“Design transforms bricks, glass and concrete into a place with soul and style.”
RSM Design, Graphic Connections in Architecture

Lastly, is how you define your personality. Our tip? Keep it authentic. 

This piece of the puzzle creates a framework for guiding your organization closer towards your mission and therefore your audience. It engages your community in a way that sparks an emotional response. 

Personality can then be translated to the physical space for a greater brand recognition, through applications such as placemaking, programming, and marketing. These elements allow your guests to feel connected and delighted.

Proud to be bold in flavor and story, Bearded Tang Brewery captures the essence of personality. Their narrative is about three friends with a passion for creating great beer and a desire to share it with their community.

Our team developed an illustrative logo that is both quirky and humorous as it is refined. The overall brand identity design is targeted towards creating an enjoyable connection with guests. Today, the brewery in Orange County has created its own following and guests are equally as excited about the brand as its founders are.

Bearded Tang Brewery in Stanton, California

Ultimately, successful brands are built upon insights and strategy that drive the visual language. Developing a clear strategy is essential to positioning your brand and authentically engaging with your audience.

With the disruption of society caused by the pandemic, many of us are looking towards the future with a desire for renewed connection. We’re looking for new ways to relate to our communities, workplaces, the spaces we inhabit and brands we choose to live alongside. Finding our identity in this new world will require diligent work and an internal check on who we are, similar to how brands and organizations will continue to evolve.

It’s exciting to imagine where this sense of discovery will take us. But what’s truly next for brands? It's simple: first, take a look inside.

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