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Branding NYC Neighborhoods: Anita Zeppetelli

“Brand Identity” students get inspired by the city around them

For designers ready to apply their skills to branding, here's a good place to start. In our course, “Brand Identity: Creating an Image,” taught by Anita Zeppetelli, design students examine the basic principles of corporate identity and develop a clear understanding of how to design brands. This begins with logos and visual elements to be applied across multiple platforms, including print, packing, the web—and each student’s portfolio. For a recent project, “Brand Identity” students branded a neighborhood in New York City. Given that SVA has locations in a few different neighborhoods, this is a subject of interest, so we asked Anita to chat with us.

SVACE: You teach several Design courses, including “Brand Identity: Creating an Image.” One recent assignment for your students was to rebrand a neighborhood in New York City. Can you describe the specific guidelines for this project?

AZ: In my "Brand Identity" class, students were asked to choose a neighborhood in NYC and create a brand or something unique to it like a park or art walk for example. Next, write a creative brief, design a logo, visual system or what I call the visual tone for the brand (color palette, imagery, typography, graphic elements) and finally the design experience in the form of a brochure cover, interior spread, poster, banner, stationery system and a web home page.

SVACE: What were some of the conceptual and technical challenges for students working on this project?

AZ: The hardest part was choosing a neighborhood! Otherwise, the logo was a challenge for some. Sometimes, what looks good as a rough sketch doesn’t translate the same way once you get on the computer. It takes a little perseverance. If you are lucky, it can be the first thing you think of, but most of the time, it’s in the exploration where you find the gem.

SVACE: Were most students already familiar with Adobe Creative Suite tools, or other software? If not, how did students respond to that challenge?

AZ: For the most part, they were familiar with Adobe Creative Suite. Even beginner users managed well. A good concept usually helps.

SVACE: Over time, any New York neighborhood can become familiar, while always offering new things to discover, especially in neighborhoods rapidly changing. How did your students respond to the dynamic evolution of a neighborhood?

AZ: Just as an organization has an essence, a personality, a unique character—so does a neighborhood. Some students chose neighborhoods that were familiar and established while others chose ones that were changing. Each had its own set of challenges, but neighborhoods that are in flux were harder for some students. For them, I suggested they approach the design through an aspirational lens and amplify that.

A neighborhood brand can be a great way to get people excited about their community and infuse new energy into their neighborhood. Design is a powerful tool that way.

SVACE: As the Principal of Azura Design, Inc, what interests you now in the interface of New York City’s design, architecture, visuals, and/or interactions?

AZ: This is an exciting time for all forms of design and in particular branding. Digital technology is changing the way we approach branding and infusing so many forms of design possibilities from interactive installations to environments and beyond. It’s an exciting time to be a brand designer, and living in NYC makes it all that much more inspiring.

Upcoming Design courses with Anita Zeppetelli begin soon, including her "Editorial Design" workshop next week, and you’ll find more student design work on our website. Learn more about Anita’s work at Azura Design, Inc. And see more updates and stories on our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram pages!

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