Responses by Casey Flaherty, brand strategist, Cedrik Ferrer, designer, Joshua Chen, creative director, Chen Design Associates
Background: Webster Eleven is a mixed-use development spanning an entire city block in downtown Oakland. The developer, The Martin Group, asked us to come up with a name and identity that positioned the building as a hub for living and working in the heart of Oakland, California. The primary target audiences are early to mid-career professionals that are looking to move to a new residence as a way to mark the next chapter of their lives.
Reasoning: We wanted to emphasize movement and connection in the identity, as this building will be a major site of activity in the neighborhood. The primary logo is a black and white execution, combined with the clever interaction of bold lines and positive and negative space. The overlapping forms and strong verticality mimic the building’s sleek design, as well as the intersection of streets that give the development its name. The simplicity and confidence of the logo design is paired with color photography that highlights life in the neighborhood and the possibilities contained within it.
Challenges: This is a massive new development in a neighborhood that has not had a new residential building constructed for a while. Given the size of the project, it was crucial to come up with a name that would not only be attractive to all kinds of residents, but also would work for retailers and other businesses in the building. We led the client through a naming process that explored a range of options, but ultimately, the wisest course of action was not to overthink the name and insert too much personality. The end result is flexible enough for multiple target audiences while retaining a distinctive style.
Favorite details: How the identity design embodied the property, its name, location and culture into a simple and confident execution—particularly, the concept of connection in the logo’s strong visual form, and how it also reflects the process of how our strategic objectives and creative visions merged. The 11 inside the negative spaces of the W is a detail we’re pretty proud of—it was one of those magical “YES!” moments.
Visual influences: The city of Oakland is the biggest influencer of our visual solutions. We were inspired by its rich culture shown in the colored photographs, the grit through the black and white identity, and its boldness and confidence through the designs.
Project constraints: The project constraints pushed us to approach the photography more organically than we normally would, but that was a good way to express this particular brand in the long run.
Specific demands: The final decisions on the name and identity also required the approval of additional financial stakeholders that were partnering with our client. There were a few added layers of revisions and approvals in order to align all parties involved on the vision for the brand and how it should be executed. Nothing insurmountable, but it did add some complexity to the strategy and design processes.