Branding, Print, Large Format
University Lofts is a college student housing concept that was established in 2020 in downtown Jonesboro, AR. I was brought on to work with them in late 2019 to develop a brand concept. This brand quickly grew into a large body of work that spans multiple media; something I'm very proud of now that the biggest developments have now been completed.
Working with University Lofts was a rare chance to build a brand from the ground up. When they came to us, there were the beginnings of a brand (a logo and a basic website), but we quickly learned that we had a lot to do to get UL where they wanted to be at their current phase of launch. The first challenges were...
- Create and define a brand that combines the best of our town's local downtown flair with a focus on facilitating education at the local state college.
- Create the brand in such a way that can be scalable for additional locations easily.
- Quickly create assets for the brand that can be used immediately to promote the new business.
Approach & Solutions
The first piece of work was, of course, the logo and base brand concept. The owners wanted a clean, tailored, product-like brand to target young people who come to Jonesboro for college, but choose not to stay in student housing. The goal was established early to combine the downtown feel with fun, young imagery and crisp, clean graphics. We also decided to incorporate the local state college colors into the brand.
The next piece was a print and online campaign: "Make Your Move". This first wave of content was used by local micro-influencers to spread awareness. The mail piece was sent to all local Arkansas State University students. Email templates were also created for advertising and communications.
After these pieces were created, we took a moment to make more internally-focused items: business cards, hand-outs, leave-behinds, and gifts. A welcome packet for new occupants was also created, which included a downtown map, a layout of the building, and information about access to the building and its amenities.
Finally, we were given the opportunity to create something truly unique for downtown Jonesboro: a branded experience throughout the entire loft complex — three floors of hallways, a gym, a lobby, and exterior signs. Over weeks of iterations, we developed a visual language for the building that livened up the clean, newly-built, white spaces with large bespoke graphics and casual, but useful ambient information. The faux neon sign was a huge success.
What I Learned
- Know your materials!
While design decisions are being made (or even before), focus on the materials the end result will use. Understand the properties and limitations of your materials. Have I mentioned that you need to know your materials? Materials.
- It's smaller in your head.
This may be a personal shortcoming, but graphics tend to look much smaller, even at scale, on a desktop computer than in real life. A foot is shorter in your head.
- Consider modular design for the price-conscious.
A way that we found that helped our client control costs was to create versions of complete designs that had removable elements. A more modular approach to design allowed everyone to make better decisions about what to include and what to remove.
Say Hi! 👋
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