Fresh branding for a historic Seattle institution.

Libraries have a long history in Seattle, with the earliest efforts for a library beginning in 1868. Since 1890, The Seattle Public Library has maintained a collection now totaling in the millions of volumes across all kinds of media.




Process & Results

Pick an Entity

I picked The Seattle Public Library because I felt their identity, while identifiable, lacked the vibrancy that it once had. SPL hired Hornall Anderson to pitch a new logo design, and after a feedback survey elicited mostly negative feedback on proposed logos and the rebrand effort in general, the project was abandoned before any new identity elements were selected. That project failed for a few reasons: chief among them, the projected cost of the project was too high without enough benefit. Second, patrons felt the library didn’t need such a stark departure from its existing identity.

Refresh, not Rebrand

One of the sentiments expressed by critics of the library’s 2014 rebranding effort was that a rebrand of the library’s identity would make library services harder to find for too many patrons. I decided a better solution was to refresh the overall design with cues from the original peeking through. A blue stack of books marks gray text set in Carol Twombly’s Chaparral Pro. which is fresher than the Garamond adorning the existing logo.

The logo design is meant to emulate a stack of books, and the specific arrangements of the logo are based on the arrangement of bookshelves in the central library.

Adding a Punch

SPL’s messaging lacked a strong call to action. I decided to include “Read Ahead” in the overall strategy to try to drive enthusiasm about reading. It can be used in multiple applications.


This project also needed a special activation of the brand that would get the public to interact with the brand. I chose to mock up a “book box” kiosk made from an upcycled shipping container which is outfitted with the hardware and structure needed to serve and receive books.
The kiosks are placed in locations where a library isn’t directly accessible, and where there’s a good amount of mixed foot traffic like playgrounds, parks, and intersections. Library; School; Kiosk Location.

Brand Examples