Monday, July 16, 2012

how to create a neighborhood logo

This is the fourth article in a series about neighborhood branding, which explores the perceptions of your neighborhood before determining what to change and setting goals. We will now continue with making your neighborhood’s brand come to life.

Successful brands are always defined by logos—the combination of a stylized name and image that represents a concept much larger than the sum of its parts.

Yet, our modern world is full of too many poorly created, or even unbranded, brands. If you think people have the wrong perception of your neighborhood, it’s not because your neighborhood lacks its own unique identity, but rather, because your neighborhood lacks a cohesive brand identity.

The simplest, most easily understandable and recognizable part of your neighborhood’s brand should be a visual identity—your logo—followed by the physical implementation of that logo on street light banners, decals and other signage.

Establishing a logo is the first step to making your brand come to life.

So, if you’ve done the hard work, which includes taking the time to understand your neighbors and local businesses, as well as your audience, and set realistic, measurable goals, it’s time for some action.

Creating Your Neighborhood’s Logo

Be forewarned, choosing an agreed-upon logo that the community feels is representative of itself is no easy hurdle to overcome. But it’s important to remember that a well-designed, thought out logo is an ideal way to invigorate an intangible idea, the qualities of your community.

Local logo experts Dee Heffernan of Sol Identity, a brand strategist and designer who is currently leading the branding effort of the St. Johns Main Street Coalition (SJMSC); graphic designer Jeff Fisher of LogoMotives; and Brooke Preston, a communications consultant and the owner and founder of The Word Brewery, offer the following tips on designing your neighborhood’s logo:

  • Great ways to initiate the process include “hiring a local designer, approaching the art department of a neighborhood school, or partnering with a design school,” Fisher says. “I always discourage the use of a ‘contest’ as a way of creating a new logo for any group or organization.”

  • Create very targeted work that embodies your community. Find concepts that everyone can rally around, such as your neighborhood’s history, and physically define yourself with imagery and typography that represents this.

  • Be sure to consider longevity, or the shelf life of your brand, Heffernan says. Your “branding is going to, hopefully, last a very long time so it has to take a very intelligent, very strategic approach to make it unique but also classic," she says.

  • Make your new physical presence highly visible, Fisher says. Employing a consistent message across “logos, banners, bumper stickers, T-shirts, signage, neighborhood business or walking maps, and other graphic elements may be very effective in introducing and informing the public about the location, history and attributes of a neighborhood,” Fisher explains.

  • “Many individuals have never even heard of some neighborhoods in which residents have enormous personal pride,” Fisher continues. But, increased visibility and effective branding tools can not only educate others but may also “help bolster a neighborhood’s identity and sense of civic pride,” Preston adds.

  • And, as if it can’t be said enough, Preston stresses that logos and branding “should always be clean, contemporary and consistent.”

And once you've created your logo, learn about making a style guide on Neighborhood Notes.

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