How do you graphically represent a 13-county region that is as geographically, economically, and ethnically diverse as northern New Jersey? The North Jersey Sustainable Communities Consortium needed a brand for their Regional Plan for Sustainable Development (RPSD)—a project that has united at least 40 entities in planning for a more sustainable future for the region of 16 million people. The RPSD is a three-year planning effort funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development's Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program and significant local matching funds. When complete, the plan will be the guiding planning document for the North Jersey region. Developed by Sasaki, the North Jersey brand offers a strong graphic identity that can be used by dozens of project partners to visually link presentations given around the state, documents prepared by multiple consultants, technical reports from non-profits and government agencies, the project website, and myriad other materials within the project's purview.
Sasaki assembled an interdisciplinary in-house team of graphic designers, planners, and web developers to provide the design expertise, big picture thinking, and technical know-how necessary to develop the North Jersey brand and website. Our goals for the brand were to embody the emotion of place, capture the unique character of the region, be a catalyst for change, inspire action, exemplify the future of sustainable planning, and transcend the RPSD. This brand is not only the project's graphic identity, but it is among the first opportunities for the project team to envision the direction they want the plan to take, to distinguish the RPSD from other planning efforts, and to communicate the importance of the project to citizens.
To accomplish this tall order, Sasaki worked closely with the client team to explore several possible design directions and eventually finalize a project title, tagline, and logo that reflect North Jersey's toughness and bold nature yet remain playful and to the point. The brand identity incorporates several identifiable patterns—text boxes over full-spread photographs to depict the diverse geography of the region, a single red dot to finalize a statement with the bold North Jersey attitude, and a hub-and-spoke connection graphic that speaks to the interconnectedness of systems and places within the region. However, designing the brand was only the first step. The team also applied the brand to the project website and to a suite of digital templates for project reports, presentations, public meetings, presentation boards, stationery, and more. This wide range of communications collateral demonstrates the flexibility of the branding system and Sasaki's success in providing the client with a practical, high-quality, and easily used product.