table of contents 10 14
Facts and Figures Brand Story
20 Identity System 28 Signage
“When my father and stepmother visited my family’s home for the first time, I took them on a tour to show off our little town. As we were nearing the end, I asked what they thought of Narberth. Francie’s response? ‘Not impressed. It looks like downtown Helena [Montana] in 1950.’ My father then asked if the area car dealerships used the main street as a lot to showcase their newest models for sale!” Richard McKnight, long-time Narberth resident at left: photograph taken in downtown Narberth, 2007
FACtS ANd FIGUreS Narberth is located on a parcel of land originally deeded to Edward Rees, who arrived from Wales in 1682. A portion of this original tract became the 100-acre farm of Edward R. Price, who founded Elm as a “Quaker-friendly” town in 1881. The town named changed to Narberth in 1893, and Narberth was incorporated in 1895. In 1995, the borough celebrated its 100th birthday with a year-long celebration. Narberth is an enclave surrounded by Lower Merion Township, close to the western edge of the city of Philadelphia. It is part of the “Main Line,” a string of leafy, picturesque suburbs with quaint Welsh names extending west from Philadelphia along the old Pennsylvania Railroad’s “main line” from Merion through Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Villanova, Devon and Wayne among other towns and municipalities. Narberth is unique among those locations in that it is fairly enclosed; no major thoroughfares run through the town, but Montgomery Avenue runs northwest/ southeast along the borough’s northern border. Because of its small size, Narberth is a walking town, with virtually all of its shopping and recreational facilities within walking distance of residents’ houses.
location of Narberth in montgomery county
deMoGrAPHICS Population (2010): 4,282 Median age: 38 years 22.3% of the population is < 18 5.2% is 18–24 34.9% is 25–44 24.9% is 45–64 12.7% is ≥ 65 years of age Median household income: $60,408 Median family income: $79,545 Government: council-manager Mayor: tom Grady (d)
Brand Story Brand Objectives
Âť Showcase the beauty of life in
Narberth and its desirability as a place to live
Âť Create an identity system that acts
as an unobtrusive complement to the established scenery of the town
Âť Underscore the uniqueness of
Narberth and its small-town charm
In a sentence, Narberth is a fantastic place to live. The town is extremely kidfriendly and located at the heart of the Main Line, meaning that Center City, Philadelphia is merely a 15-minute train ride away.
CoMPetItIVe AdVANtAGe Narberth is something of a unique town in that it exists independently from the need for tourism to enhance its economy; it is not someplace to visit, it’s a place to live. And live fully. Viewed singularly, independent from its place as a borough of Montgomery County, Narberth is almost entirely self-sufficient in terms of its resources— as one observer remarked, “it’s like a town from a Lionel train set—there’s one of everything.” Indeed, Narberth has a grocery store, hardware store, general store, movie theater, pharmacy, gas station, library, clothing stores, and much more, all exuding friendliness and simple authenticity. Visitors to the town are taken aback by how idyllic and quaint Narberth is; though slowly gentrifying, it is a place that almost feels untouched by time. Narberth is a very family-oriented town that boasts a fantastic public school system. Crime is virtually non-existent here and the last major fire was in 1994 when someone forgot to turn off a coffee pot in what used to be the town’s charming ice cream parlor. Narberth maintains a unique geographical position as the first major stop along the regional rail train line that runs from Philadelphia to Paoli; the two stops before it are purely residential areas, while the station is right in the middle of the town. This means a great ease of living for all of Narberth’s residents—Philadelphia is just a 15 minute train ride away if need be. Throughout the year, various events are held in the town for everyone’s enjoyment. During the summer months, Narberth hosts a traveling circus, Memorial Day parade, and 4th of July fair and fireworks. The Dickens festival is held around Christmastime, and Santa pays a visit to Narberth’s children in December, riding into town from Philadelphia on the aforementioned Regional Rail train. These are just a few of Narberth’s special seasonal productions. In short, Narberth’s competitive advantage is that it’s a great place to live, particularly for families and those
seeking a way to live very close to a large metropolitan city while living a world away from it in terms of atmosphere. Narberth is one of the last truly authentic small towns, and is situated in a prime location on the Main Line.
tHe NArBertH BrANd Given the dearth of tourist attractions in Narberth but rich residential community, it would be an error to attempt to brand it into something it’s not. While the town offers everything from flower shops to opticians, dry cleaners to daycare centers, there is not a single hotel or bed and breakfast operating within Narberth’s half-mile footprint, nor is there one within a five-mile radius. The average “tourist” here is generally an overnight guest of a resident, a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin. For this reason, the Narberth brand seeks to enhance the day-to-day lives of its people, and cohesively showcase its charm for prospective homebuyers.
BrANd MISSIoN ANd VALUeS The most prominent part of Narberth is its oldfashioned small town charm, an asset not just valuable to the experience of its residents, but also very attractive to families seeking a great place to grow and thrive. Because of this, the mission of the Narberth brand is to enhance and underscore the town’s idyllic and friendly nature, taking care not to obscure these characteristics with too bold and glossy an identity campaign. Narberthians value authenticity and simplicity, as evidenced by the longstanding family businesses located up and down the town’s main drag, Haverford Avenue. Flashy, gimmicky businesses don’t survive here, nor are they encouraged. There is not a single chain store in all of the “downtown” area. Narberth’s brand identity must blend into the woodwork seamlessly, all the while strengthening the community’s image.
BrANd PerSoNALIty, VoICe, ANd StyLe Downtown Narberth as a whole has a very “unaesthetic aesthetic”—which is to say, it’s appearance has been largely determined by its simple and honest shopkeepers, more concerned with clarity and authenticity than creating a stylish image. As a result, the town’s visual culture is much richer and un-self conscious than that of most of its surrounding boroughs. The visual identity was produced to feel at once classic and youthful, so as to really appeal to the town’s diverse population of adults, children, teens, and seniors and act as a streamlined complement to Narberth’s established aesthetic. For years now, Narberth has associated itself with an image of a tree on many printed materials, in homage to the town’s original name, Elm. Though the reasoning behind this symbol has faded from common knowledge over time, the fact remains that Narberth has become visually synonymous with the image of an elm tree. For this reason, the elm proved to be impossible to strike from Narberth’s visual identity. It’s not Narberth if there’s not trees on everything. As a result, the elm’s image was standardized and streamlined to suit the town’s new visual identity. The voice of the brand aims to be friendly, authentic, and inviting, at once initiating new residents and complementing the lives of long-term Narberthians.
UNIQUe CULtUre New visitors to Narberth are at times surprised by how surreal the town feels, as it’s so out-of-character with the fast-paced city of Philadelphia located close by. Narberth is almost like a real-life Pleasantville, where everyone knows everyone else and the shopfronts are as charming as the people inside them. But as picturesque as it is, the town is very real and a very rewarding community to be a part of. The visual culture of Narberth revolves around authentically vintage hand-painted signage that utilizes primarily sans-serif typefaces and is created using simple, primary colors like red and bright blue.
The typographic language of Narberth speaks volumes about the town’s character,.
With all of its charm and simplicity, the town of Narberth proved extremely difficult to design for, complicated further by the visual objective of the brand: to create an identity system that operates as an unobtrusive complement to the established scenery, subtly tying everything together without appearing too flashy. Given the fact that authentically vintage and handpainted signage continues to adorn many of Narberth’s storefronts decades after its installation, it seemed unthinkable not to provide for this aesthetic in the town’s brand identity. Moreover, as the “downtown” area of Narberth claims no established color scheme, the town’s identity had to exist with neutrals at its core so as to not compete with its surroundings, particularly in regards to the environmental signage component of the system.
Despite the fact that each of these first five logo designs effectively convey different aspects of Narberth’s spirit, none felt truly representatve the town.
Borrowing the most successful features from each of the previous logo iterations, a solution was alighted upon.
With the realization that some of the issues impeding the Narberth logo design stemmed from the standardized nature of traditional typefaces, making it difficult to adequately reference the townâ€™s handpainted signage in a genuine way, the decision was made to draw the logotype by hand, using both Wrexham Script and Parfait Script Pro as inspiration. Instantly, things began to fall into place.
The logo on the left is meant to be used when a smaller, simpler look is desired or in conjunction with the freefloating logotype. It belongs on business cards and the Narberth letterhead. The logo on the right is intended for use on the boroughâ€™s website as a header image.
Two logos generated shortly thereafter incorporate not just Narberthâ€™s iconic elm tree silhouette, they take the shape of a simple ribbon, a motif desired for the logo from the beginning of the design process. Utilizing a purely black and white color scheme for the stationary system streamlines its appearance and is at once youthful and classic.
toM GrAdy mayor 610.664.7777 email@example.com
narbertH boroUGH office
100 conWaY avenUe, no.1
narbertH, Pa 19072
NARBERTH BOROUGH OFFICE /// 100 CONWAY AVENUE, NO.1 /// NARBERTH, PA 19072
ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ primary typeface: Gotham
signage Winter Pantone 329–7
Spring Pantone 259–8
Summer Pantone 295–6
Autumn Pantone 7-6
In contrast with Narberth’s streamlined black and white stationary system, the environmental signage for the town adds four more colors and patterns to the mix. This gesture is necessary to ensure that the avenue banners subtly complement the town’s aesthetic, appearing less obtrusive than a black and white signage system would. Furthermore, the banners are meant to be changed per season, using the corresponding color. The colors reference the colors of the trees lining Haverford Avenue during each season of the year, and thus serve to make the signage appear as naturally within its environment as possible.
Published on May 2, 2012