City of Dana Point cover image with retro-style 70s graphic.

Dana Point, California

The City of Dana Point Case Study

This California coastal community has a population of 30,000 that grows to over 100,000 on the weekends. RSM Design created a city signage and wayfinding system intended to capture users and guide them to city parks, resorts, business districts, parking, and other amenities. To kick-off the community visioning process, RSM Design assembled stakeholders comprised of business owners, residents, and other action groups to be involved in developing a theme that was reflective of the community identity. The end result was a wayfinding system of signage, inspired by local artists, that aids locals and visitors in truly relishing in the Dana Point experience.

Dana Point is a coastal community in South Orange County which has a population of 30,000 that grows to over 100,000 on the weekends.

This active, picturesque playground provides residents and visitors with a myriad of recreational activities ranging from paddle boarding and kayaking to surfing and hiking. The topography of Dana Point’s costal edge climbs and dips, leaving harbors and scenic plateaus along the way.

With so many treasures tucked and nestled along the coastline, one would think the Pacific Coast Highway that runs through the town would provide a perfect welcome mat to tourists and visitors. However, the costal by-way has served as a pass through that left the town feeling more like a hallway than a hangout spot for visitors.

RSM Design worked through a series of community workshops with city stakeholders to define the core image of the city.

Once we were able to determine how the city identified itself, and how they wanted to appear outwardly toward visitors, we worked to brand the city and create a series of touchpoints in the form of signage, wayfinding, collateral, a website, and a trolley. These items made an announcement of arrival, as well as directions to points of interest to guests.

In addition to directing visitors, the community made active transportation a priority in their wayfinding system. This included conducting studies of the most walkable and bikeable paths throughout the city and creating directionals for pedestrians actively moving through the city.

Whether it’s walking from a parking space to the beach, or the harbor to the downtown business district, RSM Design worked to provide cookie crumbs of direction between different areas of the city. The town even added a public trolley system which helped to fill the longer and more challenging gaps between key destinations. The idea was to provide a complete loop that was both safe, and easy to navigate with relatively little existing knowledge of the town. Creating memorable signage that serves as a road map encourages guests and residents to explore without the worry of getting lost or roaming to a place that was too far to traverse back.

RSM Design developed a citywide identity, wayfinding, and signage program with a particular emphasis on welcoming visitors arriving on the Pacific Coast Highway and directing them to the coastal and downtown business centers.

Our approach to the project was to develop a unified family of elements that reflect the city’s brand message and promote its coastal charm and active lifestyle. The end solution was bright and bold, providing an invitation for locals and visitors alike to stop and play a while.

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