Will Brooklyn finally get its own ‘graphic identity’?

The branding of Brooklyn continues with Kickstarter proposal

April 18, 2013 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Brooklyn is already one of the hottest brands in the world – note the skyrocketing popularity of Brooklyn-themed clothing, beer, pickles and pizza – and now a group of artists and “branding experts” wants to make it official with a crowd-sourced graphic identity campaign.

The five high-powered creators of the “idBrooklyn” project — Gerardo Blumenkrantz, Gustavo Stecher, Hernan Berdichevsky, Gustavo Contreras and Frank Scott Krueger — want to involve “Brooklynites and Brooklyn-lovers worldwide to participate in designing a beautiful set of graphic icons of Brooklyn’s culture.”

The artists, who say they have the backing of Brooklyn Borough president Marty Markowitz, have started a Kickstarter online fundraiser. “We want to tap into the borough’s pulse and make it the world’s first community branded by participatory design.”

Artist Krueger told the Brooklyn Eagle via email on Thursday, “Due to Brooklyn’s rich cultural heritage we want to provide a cohesive set of graphic icons that clearly explain the multi-cultural aspects to both Brooklynites, visitors and people around the globe.”

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An informal survey by this paper of office workers in DUMBO yielded a number of logo suggestions.

“The Brooklyn Dodgers ‘B,’” was offered by a sports enthusiast. “And now the Nets,” said another fan. “The Brooklyn Bridge is the iconic image,” said another. But one respondent pointed out the difficulty of capturing the essence of the Borough in one identity campaign: “It would be nice, but it seems like people would never agree.”

That’s exactly the point, Krueger said. “Rather than branding Brooklyn with a single abstract logo that nobody can relate with, we want to design a set of simplified drawings that will open a conversation of what it means to be Brooklyn. Because it’s such a culturally diverse borough, we chose to give this logo an icon treatment rather than a brand. The (hopefully) thousands of participants will decide what the final icons will be; we will simply design the final product.”

The project was posted to Kickstarter on April 11 and will run one month. The goal is to take in $30,000 before the May 11 deadline. As of Thursday morning, 27 backers had donated $1,420. The project will only be funded if the whole amount is collected.

If it does get funded, the project will roll out in stages. First will come hands-on workshops with a variety of interested people. A mobile app and website are in the works as well, to make it easy for participants to contribute ideas.

“People from all walks of life who live in Brooklyn,” will participate, Krueger said. “We will host free workshops in as many neighborhoods as our budget allows. We will reach older generations through local papers, local events and word of mouth. Younger people will be easier to reach via social media, email and events.

“Brooklynites love their borough and that’s why we want to let them define its identity.”

Then local artists, designers and writers will work with the ideas that were generated and transform them into Brooklyn icons.

“We do cultural identity because we love it, and it means so much more to us than corporate identity,” Krueger said. “Working with people and their cultures is where we really want to be. Projects like idBrooklyn allow us to explore the concept of participatory design.”

The artists say they hope that idBrooklyn appeals to both an international audience interested “in a new form of identity design, and also to the multiple generations, social classes and cultures of Brooklyn’s diverse neighborhoods.”

An exhibit will showcase the results of the workshops, along with works from the participating local artists. The organizers say they’re “secretly hoping for the Brooklyn Museum,” and hope to include works of art from the museum’s collection that personify Brooklyn’s identity.

“What excites us the most is that idBrooklyn is merely the start of a long-lasting conversation about the identity of Brooklyn,” Krueger said. “We envision the project as an interactive work-in-progress as unique as the people who take part in it.”

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