Students Brand a County: A Case Study of the Process of Branding a Public Agency

By Patricia Murphey.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper is a case study on a partnership formed between Coconino County Arizona and the VisualDESIGNLab. Coconino County is situated in the northern part of Arizona and is the second largest county in the United States; the VisualDESIGNLab is a practicum environment in the Visual Communication program at Northern Arizona University.
The presentation will illustrate the learning process experienced by both the students and the client and walk through all the development phases of the brand redesign. The first phase proposed by the Lab, was the design of a brand audit to assess the county’s brand awareness and equity and to understand the constituent’s perceptions of the county’s current brand. Following this first phase, the students learned that goals and objectives needed to be set to deal with the delicate politics involved in branding a public agency.
My intent is to showcase this rare experiential learning opportunity, where undergraduate students redesigned an extensive and complex brand identity and to present the Coconino brand identity project from research, audit, design, standards, until the implementation phase.
I will also discuss the future work the students will develop in the evaluation phase, which will provide crucial information to help measure the brand’s performance over time. The students and the county will analyze how the responses to the brand will affect their positioning in the community and what are the long-term effects of such a positioning change.

Keywords: Practice Focus, Case Study, Brand Identity, Design Education, Practicum Learning, Design Projects, Planning, Management, Afterlife, Collaborative Design, Graphic Design Education, Knowledge Transfer, Branding, Design Pedagogy, Design Methodology, Design Process, Collaboration, Experiential Learning, Visual Communication

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 5, pp.621-630. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.000MB).

Patricia Murphey

Assistant Professor of Visual Communication, Visual Communication Program, School of Communication, College of Social & Behavior Sciences, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

Patricia Murphey is Assistant Professor of Visual Communication at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. She is also the Director of the VisualDESIGNLab. She holds a BFA from Faculdade da Cidade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and a MFA from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, CA. She is Principal at Patricia Murphey Design in Flagstaff, AZ. Patricia has been a graphic designer, art director, creative director and design educator for the past 16 years. She has worked in Chicago, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Flagstaff. Her design work has won her a 1999 The San Francisco Show 13, a 1999 ADDY Award and a 2009 American Design Award. At NAU, she founded the Visual Design Lab, where she works with students, public agencies and non-profit organizations providing design solutions for clients. At NAU, she founded the Visual Design Lab, where she works with students, public agencies and non-profit organizations providing design solutions for clients.

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