We recently wrapped on a unique design collaboration defining the visual identity of Roxbury Youth Program. Through this process, Design and Marketing Coordinator, Anna Ferrari uncovered a new education-first approach towards the complexities of multi-team-member creation and consensus.
Meeting Roxbury Youth Programs
I recently had the opportunity to collaborate with a group of high school student interns at Roxbury Youth Programs. We worked together to shape a visual identity for the organization that is representative of their vision. Seeing the organization through the eyes of their youth was an exceptional lens to take on and a reminder of what I love about the process behind branding.
Roxbury Youth Programs (RYP) is an out-of-school-time youth development center housed at the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry. They uplift and support young folks of Roxbury and Boston by creating pathways to social and economic success. The organization was established in 1992 in response to youth violence in their community, and as a safe space for young people to find supportive resources and connections. Today, they continue to equip and empower young people with the skills to become leaders in their communities and beyond. In summary – they are so cool, and so impactful. Who wouldn’t love to work with them?
We first met Youth Programs Manager, Tarik Bartel when they applied for the 2022 Make it Happen Residency. Though we loved their proposal, we made the difficult decision to work with Youth Pride Rhode Island as our resident at that time. We were thrilled when Tarik later approached us to collaborate later in the year.
For this project, I got to engage with RYP interns: high school-aged young people with skills in leadership, self-efficacy, and creativity through a lens of Roxbury community history and social change. The RYP intern program’s goal is to foster storytelling and creative skills that allow young people to become change makers in their own communities. This is the first instance during my time at IP that in collaborating with a youth-centered organization I was able to work directly with the young folks involved and it made the experience even more rewarding.
Supporting Youth Organizations
Uplifting marginalized youth populations is one of Isenberg Projects’ key pillars. As a business, one of the main ways we uphold this value is through sharing design services with non-profit youth organizations. Over the past year, this mission has granted us designers the opportunity to provide Youth Pride Rhode Island with a logo and web design that amplifies their mission to support LGBTQ+ youth, and Girls Rock Campaign Boston with their 12 year anniversary donation campaign visuals to continue empowering youth through music.
My experience with both of these incredible organizations laid the groundwork for developing Roxbury Youth Programs’ visual identity
My approach to tackle the unique challenges this collaboration presented was to provide their team, comprised of 15 youth interns, with the visual language and basic design principles to understand, contribute to, and evaluate design concepts.
Setting the intention
The visual goals established alongside RYP included:
- Effectively communicating RYP as a service and organization independent of the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry while creating a visual identity that was cohesive with the parent organization.
- Modernizing RYP visuals so they appeal and speak to youth and the Roxbury community.
- Provide RYP with accessible tools and brand guidelines to use and grow with over time.
A Collaborative Process
The IP Design Department traditionally begins each branding project by collecting and synthesizing information about the client and organization through discussions, review of their past marketing collateral, interviewing key stakeholders, reviewing goals, and asking questions to shape the work ahead.
The discovery phase is integral to developing all of the work we do as it forms a deep understanding of the organization’s values, mission, self-perception and the way that they would like to be perceived. In turn, this understanding allows us to create work that is most in line with their needs.
For this project, this discovery process was used to inform the larger brand story. We were specifically looking to define their preferences in terms of font, iconography, and color.
Beyond just crafting their visual identity we also wanted to contribute to their mission of creative skill development by uplifting and centering the opinions of RYP interns throughout the process.
This inspired a unique series of workshops and rubrics for articulation of interests and evaluation of designs. This new collaboration method involved creating interactive activities for RYP staff to lead, and report back to us with insights.
Here’s a glimpse at their custom workshop series:
- Developing a Brand Presentation with basic design terminology and examples of “Trendy vs. Timeless” design.
- Rubric for identifying which logos appealed to them throughout the presentation with an explanation of why they liked them using their new set of terminology.
- A series of moodboards to inform the design direction. Interns chose their preference between bold or minimal style and geometric or character-based shapes.
Design and Delivery
The detailed collaborative process put youth opinions at the forefront and provided them with the language to defend their choices while tying them back to overall goals. Despite there being 15 individual interns, this unique discovery process allowed for equal input from all that merged into one central focus for font, color palette, and icon direction.
- Fonts: Minimal, san-serif, timeless and clean.
- Color palette: Featuring high-contrast two-color pairings. Tying in blue and gold from the UUM branding. Light blue as the primary color.
- Icons: A flower icon to represent growth that occurs while gaining skills through RYP. Bubble lettering sketched by an intern.
After having defined these three key areas through the discovery process, we were ready to set forth towards our final design. I was delighted to interpret the collective feedback as well as the work of an intern into our final logo:
Alternate usage with simplified iconography and color variations
“Thank you for making the visions of our young people come to life. You took their ideas, designs, and values and really wrapped it up into something that is so joyful, colorful, and representative of our programs.” – Tarik Bartel, Youth Programs Manager Roxbury Youth Program
While the educational aspect of this project was built into our scope of work with RYP, the framework we developed will inform and expand upon our branding discovery process going forward. I’m excited to continue including clients in this process and empowering them to understand, evaluate and contribute to a concept that honors their ideas, values and vision.
Design + Marketing Coordinator