Hampshire County, Destination Brand Concept
We’re currently in the process of developing a destination brand for our home, Hampshire County, Massachusetts. Place brands are always tricky with so many invested stakeholders. Hampshire County is 350 years old but has never been marketed as a tourism destination under this title.
I’m pretty up on my geography, but I don’t know the names of the counties in Connecticut, just a half hour south of here. So I had this imagined conversation with someone not from around here…
I’ve lived in Northampton for ten years and noticed that a central part of the Western Mass ethos is about being fiercely local and protective of the good thing we’ve got here. There seems to be a clear line between this and that side of Worcester (particularly when it comes to state government.) People here know Western Massachusetts is very different from the other other side of Massachusetts.
Here’s a simplified and stylized map of Massachusetts. Anyone who is familiar with our subway map work might recognize that we’re a little partial to the 45s and 90s.
A line down the middle designates Western Mass…
…and smack dab in the middle of Western Mass is Hampshire County. The only Mass county, by the way, that doesn’t border the ocean or another state. We’re like the ‘most’ Massachusetts county.
And for over a hundred years, all of Western Mass was Hampshire County. Through the centuries, our neighbor counties to the north, south and west were all carved from Hampshire County…
While Hampshire County can be considered a geographic other side of Massachusetts, our other-ness also comes from natural beauty and particularly from this community of people who are so famously accepting of each other’s diverse lifestyles, spirituality, and ways of thinking.
The summary of the market research conducted for this project had a line that stood out to me:
Hampshire County is a place that affords me the relaxation and freedom I need to be my true self
We think this sentiment dovetails beautifully with the concept of coming here to explore one’s own personal individual other sides.
“The Other Side” acts a basecamp for this brand. From here, we can reach out to very targeted demographics, enticing them to come here to explore their own personal individual other sides in Hampshire County.
There are others but the photography is still all stock. These were taken by local photographers Lynne Graves (pre-historic, town, pool, drivers, sweet), Candace Hope (soft, bright, greener, up), and Anita Licis Ribak (broad). We will be going into full development this month with our official launch at the end of May.
This is the first print ad that will run on the back of the CISA guide this May (Photographer, Lynne Graves).
The mark is meant to be bold, minimal, and flexible. A lot of applications of this mark will be in social media and mobile web environments so it needs to read small.
Our type is Neue Haas Grotesk, a recent digital restoration of the 1957 Swiss type that would become Helvetica. We feel its a true classic and its minimalism complements the mark. And it just sets beautifully, unlike Helvetica.
Reproducible in one or two colors, and with or without type, the mark opens itself to a vast array of merchandise opportunities:
…and a bottle opener. Still needs to be tested.
What’s new for the Hampshire Council of Governments
Here is a selection of some of the pieces we’ve recently completed for various initiatives coming out of the offices of the Hampshire Council of Governments:
Don’t Squeeze Too Hard!
Here’s James’ charming poster for Damia’s mom’s annual Nutcracker performance in Manchester, Vermont. We’ve been doing these for about 10 years now. I’ll have to go back and find the rest to see how they’ve progressed over time.
Between 2007 and 2010, Damia was down in Bridgeport every few weeks to photograph the construction of a mammoth new cancer center at St. Vincent’s Medical Center. She really got in there with the workers and captured some of the intricate processes that go into making a modern medical facility.
Conceived as a donor gift for major contributors to the St. Vincent’s Foundation, we edited through thousands of photos to produce a 90-page coffee table book for the ages. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. Blurb does great work. Here are a few spreads:
2013 Wilco Calendar
We’re thrilled that we made the cut for this year’s Wilco calendar. That’s us up there in the top right corner. Yeah!
To make the map more interesting, I went through Wilco’s tour history and mapped out every European city they ever performed in prior to the 2012 tour. Those gigs are represented on the blue lines.
Sometimes it’s difficult…
…to get all of the doctors in the same place at the same time.
2012-2013 ’62 Center Season Program
Here is the new big beautiful annual book for the ’62 Center at Williams College. They’ve got some great events planned and if you live anywhere near Williamstown you surely already know how fantastic this venue is. We approached it a little differently this year. James and Rob created a bunch of illustrations that will double as posters when the event gets closer.
Brand New Conference
The TAF gang took a field trip to attend the Brand New Conference in New York. If you haven’t seen it before, the Brand New blog is where new logos and brand redesigns get reviewed and eviscerated. It’s totally snarky and lots of fun. And the comments section is not for the thin-skinned should your logo be critiqued The one-day conference is kind of an offshoot where the speakers are highly-accomplished creatives from some of the world’s top branding firms rapping to designers about how to create better brands. James and I got there early and found our seats.
Overall, we all found the conference enlightening and inspiring and left with a renewed vigor to keep getting better. Our creative style and branding knowhow are constantly evolving and events like this help to ensure everything continues in the right direction.
Here’s everything you could ever want to know about the Brand New Conference.
At some point I noticed James was sketching all of the speakers….
Simon Mannchip | Someone
He drove home the point that the effectiveness of a good brand lies not in its consistency but in its cohesiveness. I’ve been thinking about this ever since.
Yah-Leng Yu | Foreign Policy Design Group
Foreign Policy’s work is beautiful. Damia and cornered her at the after-party and dreamed of hanging out in Singapore. Fell in love with their work for this hotel.
He was the contrarian of the day and defied a lot of the points the other speakers made.
Howard Belk | Siegel and Gale
He’s the chief creative guy for one of the biggest corporate branders in the world. Good to get that perspective.
Massimo Vignelli (!) | Vignelli Associates
Very exciting to be in the presence of a living legend. He’s kind of the father of corporate branding, for good or naught.
Yolanda Santosa | Ferroconcrete
She’s responsible for the Pinkberry brand and the video anthropromorphization of TBS’ little smile bug.
Mike Rigby | Interbrand Australia
Mike spoke very elegantly about the power of branding to evoke social change. His work on Alzheimers Australia is really great.
Aaron Draplin | Draplin Design Company
This was the third time I’ve seen Draplin this year and it doesn’t get old. So funny. So much swearing.
Photos at the top of the page by Eric Ryan Anderson
Start hoarding yogurt containers
Rob’s looking to get more tactile with TAF’s deliverables. So last weekend we sent him to Liz Shepherd’s screen printing workshop in Boston. We brought along the RefugePoint Africa-Arrow graphic as our test piece and it came out great. So much fun. Now we’ve got the bug and have designs on turning the basement at the TAF South Campus into a print shop. Our eyes are pealed for exposure units and washout sinks and endless possibilities for learning curve frustration. Is it too much to want to be immediately good at something?? Much appreciation to Liz, AIGA Boston and Ed and Justin at Creative Relay for putting the session together and taking pictures.