Creating the identity of a district that curates culture

Branding and Identity

Creating the identity of a district that curates culture

Our San Diego roots run deep

San Diego’s beautiful weather and vibrant beach communities don’t tell the full story of our city. It’s also home to some of the world’s most innovative brands, spread out across the region, but sometimes in uninspiring business parks, unfortunately. The city lacked a centralized hub for people to live, work, and play together. Lankford & Associates - a San Diego development team - saw the opportunity.

The new district will serve as a neighborhood where creative culture is embraced by a collaborative community, and one where people can live, work, and play, located in the upper-east portion of San Diego’s burgeoning metro area.

The challenge

Lankford & Associates approached us with the unique challenge of articulating the culture and vision of a ‘live, work, and play’ neighborhood in San Diego.

Our key objective was to develop a flexible brand platform that would evolve over time while remaining culturally relevant. The idea had to be broad enough to encompass the diverse set of potential experiences in Makers Quarter™, with the ability to attract a youthful demographic of business and creative professionals.

Makers Quarter District Buildings

Defining brand strategy

To establish creative direction and inform some design decisions for the future community, we conducted an audit of San Diego’s Upper East Village (Makers Quarter) history, its long-term goals, and strategic plans. The audit consisted of interviews with key stakeholders, members of the San Diego historical society, business owners, local people, and community representatives.

The entire project kept its focus on the public realm, on the spaces between the buildings, and that statement represents our outlook better than most. The key was to make a civic space and not just a characterless crowd of buildings. We dreamed of places where people can interact, of places where culture is born and thrives.

Makers Quarter Wordmark on Green Background

Naming a neighborhood

The first of three phases saw us open brainstorming sessions for our team to come together and develop mind-maps based on the three core neighborhood values. We generated hundreds of potential names including NOMA, Boxer Commons, Circa Square, and The District.

The second phase took our conversations into smaller teams, avoiding the groupthink mentality and staying clear of traditional naming conventions that relied on geographical or historical elements. We focused on the people who would live in the community and ultimately define the neighborhood.

The final phase found the name Makers Quarter emerge as our winning candidate. It simultaneously defines the past, present, and future; it’s rich with history, relevant with today’s audience, and scalable enough to relate with anything and anyone.

A flexible system

Our many concepts and explorations brought us to a simple and flexible solution. We created a design system that reinforced a sense of people in public spaces and community interaction. The final design language is based around the logo and mark of the district: a customizable ‘M’ that represents the people at the heart of the neighborhood, within an open square that represents the open public space of community. It allows for continuous flexibility and future growth; its simplicity speaks to a diverse range of people, inviting each to create their own relationship with the brand mark.

The design language and identity system we established was executed across various touch-points, building an identity that has become synonymous with San Diego and the bright future of its Makers Quarter.

Makers Quarter Festival Poster
Makers Quarter Create Poster
Makers Quarter Poster Designs
Makers Quarter Coffee Shop Packaging Design
Makers Quarter Branding Application Design