Above: two-color Greenpoint logo.
I’m happy to present my Greenpoint logo and full brand identity for the Greenpoint Business Alliance. As I mentioned earlier, I was hired by the GBA for what was easily the most personal challenge of my design career: to brand my home of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. What I have developed is a flexible brand identity that can be presented as a one-word Greenpoint logo or a full brand identity for the GBA, depending on the context. These elements will be visible around the neighborhood this weekend on a holiday shopping brochure that I designed.
Above: complete GBA logo.
I submitted a proposal for this job many months ago and I’m sure the competition for the project was very strong given the quantity of talented designers in the area. I was thrilled to be approved for the opportunity. Then I started working and realized the enormous stature of the challenge ahead: this neighborhood has been my home for almost a decade and I was determined to design something great for it. It is a neighborhood of contradictions. We are an ‘urban village.’ Right there in the name is the loaded word green (I’ll get back to that) and another word that has several definitions as both noun and verb. We are known for our vibrant Polish community yet also home to every other kind of people. We have a history of toxicity that is difficult to ignore and also difficult to acknowledge. How do you brand a place, a home, with such complex history and so many stark juxtapositions?
After I was hired, I began by returning to square one. I hit the Greenpoint library and dug up a ton of history. I took long walks through a neighborhood I’ve spent years in and tried to re-open my eyes, to see what is there that I’ve taken for granted. After going through every possible logo concept imaginable – wordmarks and iconic images and the humorous or sarcastic logos I’d draw when frustrated – I returned to two basic elements: the color green and our potent name. These symbols offer so many connotations without excluding any of our diverse population or history. They are familiar to all and yet carry a variety of meanings.
Above: A Greenpoint headline from the Brooklyn Eagle
The color green is the neighborhood’s single most potent symbol. The neighborhood has landmarks (the clock on Manhattan, the Monitor statue in McGolrick, St. Anthony’s church) but none of them are quite recognizable or universal enough to carry the weight of the whole neighborhood’s symbolic representation. We may not always think of color as a symbol but it absolutely is. Greenpoint was given its name by Dutch sailors who used the neighborhood’s “verdant peninsula” (a phrase I encountered that rang through my head often) as a navigational landmark (much like Red Hook). We were once marshy farmland, ‘the Garden Spot of the World.’ However, not much remains of our leafy past, and in fact, we have a recent history of manufacturing, factories, and an oil spill. How’s that for a contradiction? The bright side is that the modern connotation of green is what many in this neighborhood strive for: a healthy and environmentally sound way of life. We were once green and green is what many residents work hard to return to every day. Along the way, we are always Greenpoint.
My final logo unites the word Greenpoint with a green arrow, creating something of a visual pun that embodies both words. I believe that it’s a strong mark because it carries a range of connotations, both literal and emotional. The arrow seems to say, ‘Up with Greenpoint.’ It says green point, literally. It implies ascension and carries an emotional meaning about our affection and pride for the neighborhood. Lastly, it seems to point to our location on a map, at the Northernmost edge of Brooklyn.
It is my hope that this brand identity has enough flexibility that it can be used as a visual identifier for both the Greenpoint Business Alliance and the neighborhood itself. I hope Greenpointers are pleased when they see it and I hope to have done justice to the job for all of the proud people who have lived and worked in Greenpoint. Many, many thanks to the GBA.
Above: a Brooklyn Eagle illustration of the Civil War ship the USS Monitor, aka the “cheesebox on a raft,” built in Greenpoint.