Kingston Midtown Arts District
BRAND IDENTITY | VISUAL DESIGN | WEBSITE
MAD about Design:
How the right brand identity
launched Kingston Midtown Arts District
In 2013, a remarkable transformation began in Kingston, NY. Artists, artisans, businesses and residents joined forces with Midtown arts-related businesses and developers of artist live/work lofts and apartments to revitalize the 19th century industrial neighborhood. The aim was to spark economic development, build community and create an arts district.
During the next two years volunteers researched arts districts in other cities. They then organized a steering committee that launched the Kingston Midtown Arts District in 2015.
MAD qualified as a not-for-profit organization in 2017. Their mission is to create, unite and enrich a vibrant, inclusive community. It does this through arts education and workforce training, developing the creative economy, and in arts leadership and collaborations.
Building a beacon
As a newly formed entity, maximizing visibility is essential to growth. MAD had to quickly draw the attention of the community, attract donations from stakeholders and foundations, and win local government support.
MAD needed a strong base from which to grow in order to establish its roots and credibility within the wider community. In order to achieve this, it was essential to present themselves as a successful, legitimate organization from the start. This required a very professional brand identity that captured the image and the authentic voice of the Midtown Arts District.
Designing a successful brand
Understanding your audience is fundamental to developing a successful brand identity. Often, you have more than one audience to consider. In this instance, we wanted a professional look engaging to businesses, a creative expression artists would respond favorably to, with a friendliness and inclusivity to appeal to all neighborhood residents.
MAD began as an all-volunteer organization, and its growth is fueled by the energy and commitment of its helpers. We adopted the acronym 'MAD' as the main feature of its visual identity because as an adjective it encapsulates enthusiasm and passion. It fits well with the brand, and is easy to remember, energetic and amusing.
We continued this feeling in the Officina Sans typeface, creating a simple, lowercase design that is welcoming to all. The logo color palette is grey and orange. The grey communicates professionalism, while the orange adds a sense of excitement and creative energy.
This bold design stands out in all elements of its visual identity, from the website and marketing communications, to its striking promotional materials. It was even incorporated into the design of a proposed bicycle rack outside the building.
Meeting the brief
What began as a coalition of artists, businesses and residents, MAD has grown rapidly to include other organizations, groups and the City of Kingston, all serving to unite and revitalize Midtown and the surrounding areas.
Since its inception, MAD has an impressive range of accomplishments that include
- successful and ongoing collaborations with other arts organizations
- staging free public events dedicated to local arts and music
- giving creatives forums to make presentations, share ideas and promote themselves, and sell their art
- offering art classes and workshops for people of all ages
- receiving grants from foundations, businesses and government agencies
Perhaps the most significant accomplishment for the relatively new organization is the opening of MAD Headquarters in 2020. It is home to a multi-use space, The D.R.A.W Studio, and a 24/7 storefront gallery. With stunning floor to ceiling windows, it draws the attention of passersby and invites people to come inside to learn more.
MAD HQ has rapidly become a beacon of light that shines from the heart of the Midtown Arts District in Kingston. All are welcome to explore their curiosity and discover opportunities to grow and thrive through the arts.
Branding is the process of connecting good strategy with good creativity.