The Client Goal

In the late summer of 2013, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) was charged with creating a new 20-year plan that would implement growth-focused changes to Seattle from 2015 to 2035. As part of this initiative, they were asked to place an art piece in the center of a local event, where it would serve as an opportunity to connect with the community through visual communications and better understand their expectations for Seattle’s future. This goal also necessitated a community action campaign to revolve around the artwork — and all within a few short weeks.

The  Solution

Because a full campaign was needed, we knew that the first step would be to build a brand that would drive all future design choices. After meeting with key members of the DPD, we presented a number of potential initiative titles and taglines that could connect with a diverse audience. It was from this branding exercise that we settled on the title Seattle 2035: Your City, Your Future. Below is a detailed breakdown of how this campaign unfolded over time.

Branding & Style Guide

Knowing that the title and tagline would set the tone for the entire campaign, we focused on identifying this as our top priority. The tagline, Your City, Your Future, is meant to instill pride in the community and encourage them to engage in conversations about the city’s future. We paired this with an inviting color palette before identifying an illustration style that would remain timeless for the duration of the campaign and 20-year plan. To further empower the client, we documented all brand and illustration requirements in a detailed style guide.

Visual Campaign Development

Upon finalizing brand direction, we developed a visual communications strategy focused on reinforcing local pride while encouraging community members to join the conversation about Seattle’s future. We did this by visualizing key data points about Seattle’s economic landscape as it related to transportation and land use. We also visualized both known and unknown milestones in the history of Seattle to lay the foundation for a conversation about the city’s future.

Display Booth Design & Build

The first implementation of the Seattle 2035 campaign came in the form of an interactive art installation that we designed and built from scratch. The booth was developed to be modular; allowing any member of the DPD to easily deconstruct the piece and move it to other show areas in the city. In addition, boxes can be taken away to change the size and items displayed depending on location. The boxes also serve a dual purpose as they provide a branded carrying kit that the DPD calls “boxed lunches,” for use at local outreach events.

Data & History Tiles

We felt that it was necessary to make the art installation interactive to engage the audience and spark conversation. Because of this, we created data and history tiles to be placed on opposite sides of the structure.

The history tiles display a single image that visualizes a milestone in Seattle’s past. Visitors can guess what each means, and flip the tile over to see if they are correct. The data tiles showcase interesting facts about Seattle’s current economic landscape and population, along with stats about its potential future.

We also chose the tile format because of its many potential uses throughout the community. To keep the conversation going, we suggested the creation of history tile coasters to be placed at local breweries, bumper stickers, playing cards, and more.