Branding Greenpoint

Greenpoint Logo

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.

Greenpoint Business Alliance Brand Identity

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?

Above: detail of the Greenpoint identity in action on the pages of my holiday brochure.

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.

7 Responses to “Branding Greenpoint”

  1. I love the complete GBA logo.

  2. I appreciate all your hard work, yet somehow the gray lettering with an arrow doesn;t quite seem to fit with Greenpoint. I was born and raised at 1116 Manhattan Avenue (born 1/20/1951) and there are other more iconic buildings than St Anthiny’s Church. What about Greenpoint Savings Bank, what about St Stanislaus Kostka Church which is much older and more exquisite in it’s architeture?

    Greenpoint was always known as the Garden Spot of The World…..NOT America! I think the logo should reflkect that word “garden”! For all of us oldtimers who remember the electric buses and cobblestone streets………YES Greenpoint is loaded with cobblestone streest hidden under asphalt, I would think you would want to belnd the old with the new and not just go for the now and future. It is sad that Greenpoint is losing what it was built on——-It’s Polish Community and making the area more of a yuppieville. Just take a look at all the artsy stores and eateries and bars. Greenpoint was always a working class neighborhood which kept it under the radar in NYC, however now it is pushing it’s oldtimers out by becoming a hamlet for the nouveau riche as the older ones can no longer afford to stay there. I understand progress is good, but not when you allow progress to wipe out the very foundation that built it.

    Just my opinion!!!! Guess I see Greenpoint in a different light than the many new transplants do!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Beverly. I have a great deal of respect for your generation and for all the manifestations of Greenpoint that have come before this one (even the Greenpoint that was here before the first house or farm was built – a reminder that neither your experience of Greenpoint nor mine is the only ‘real’ one or the only ‘original’ one). We live in a metropolis and so we have to embrace change – it’s a constant, disruptive force in our lives and in our neighborhood.

    You say you think a Greenpoint logo should reflect a garden. When you look around Greenpoint today, how many gardens do you see? To me, a Greenpoint logo that blossomed with leaves and flowers would be inaccurate and untruthful.

    What percentage of Greenpoint’s population would immediately recognize the silhouette of Stanislaus Kostka Church? What percentage would fail to identify with (or object to) that religious symbolism? These are the questions I had to ask of all these concepts.

    I decided on the logo that you see here because I think it has meaning and symbolic resonance and yet it is also free enough of literal or figurative connotations (gardens, churches, specific time periods) that it can have the ability to grow and take on a life of its own with Greenpoint and its residents. However, only time can tell if that will happen, and it can only happen if the logo is used and seen. I am hopeful.

    By the way, I greatly enjoyed reading some reflections on the Greenpoint era that you’ve referred to at this site (click on ‘I Remember Greenpoint’). Thanks again.

  4. As a fellow brand strategist and resident of Greenpoint, I appreciate the research and holistic thought that went into this identity. Well done!

  5. Thanks, Will! I appreciate that.

  6. […] Back in May I posted about the GBA looking for someone to help ‘brand’ them and I’m thrilled that someone living in Greenpoint was actually chosen and created the new branding of the Greenpoint Business Alliance. You can read Dan Redding of Magnetic State’s post about the project and find the new looks here. […]

  7. Hi Dan I started reading your blog and was thinking, I know this place greenpoint for something, but I couldnt remember from what. Till you said it was a very important point for Dutch sailors (Im Dutch) so that made everything clear for me. I have had some lessons about Greenpoint at school. I think that must be nice for you to here!


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