To develop and implement a brand, visual identity and overall communications plan to engage and excite Calgarians to apply for a microgrant program administered by the Federation of Calgary Communities, The City of Calgary and Walk21. The focus of the program was tactical urbanism – low-cost and quick ideas that help to transform a public space and allow people to experience it in a different way. In my role as the communications coordinator for the program, I had one month to develop the ActivateYYC brand for the launch of the microgrants program on June 1st, 2017. Deliverables included a communications plan that outlined key messages and outreach strategies, web and print branding, marketing materials and style sheets.
Due to the limited timeline of the brand development, the majority of my research focused on what other similar initiatives were doing in other cities – such as Regina, San Diego, Memphis and Auckland. After this desk research I was able to develop a working theory: Tactical urbanism starts at the bottom – at the community level – so targeted communications should reflect what I would want to see if I was in the same position. After discussing with my colleagues what would get them most interested in applying to a microgrant program, I knew that the brand and communications had to be simple, fun, attention grabbing and –most importantly – approachable to those who were thinking of applying.
The name ActivateYYC was developed after a brainstorming session between several co-workers and myself. The name implies a sense of untapped possibility as the audience wonders what part of the city is to be activated and how it will be activated. Original suggestions for the name did not include the suffix of YYC, but it was added in to make the program exclusive to Calgary and to fall closer in line to the Federation of Calgary Communities’ social media handles, which end in YYC.
Many themes were involved in creating the branding and corresponding materials. Some concepts involved empowering neighbourhoods and their residents through the use of creative ideas or forward-thinking ideas – represented lightbulbs and upward strokes/directional strokes respectively. Other ideas used connecting lines, shapes or pieces to focus on bringing the community together to create a project that everyone could benefit from. A third major conceptual category concentrated on making “spaces into places” and creating a livelier, more walkable city, which used mapping symbols and different shoes and feet to communicate this.
The final ActivateYYC brand and logo was chosen after discussion between my colleagues and myself. The legs represent the focus of making Calgary a more walkable and pedestrian-friendly city through the use of tactical urbanism/placemaking projects. While not a distinct goal of the program, the legs also help to promote a healthy and active lifestyle – which many of the tactical urbanism projects also aimed to do.
The typeface is Futura PT, which is a clean, simple and legible font that can be used across many marketing materials, thanks to its variety of weights. The type is italicized in the main logo to convey the idea of moving forward and pushing the limits as to what’s possible for a temporary public project.
The main colours included in the brand were chosen because of their vibrant and fun feel. The included icons are a visual version of the ActivateYYC slogan – Walk, Play and Be Neighbourly – which is a summary of the main goals of the program itself.