City Branding: Miami

A few weeks ago I was letting the sunshine in Miami love me (well, it was mutual) when my partner commented that Miami really has it’s own color scheme and font, beyond it’s famed art deco architecture. It’s always been a touch puzzling to me when designer people talk about expressing personality of something through elements like typeface, color, and other design elements. But in Miami, this was crystal clear.

Below is the sign for a mall near the Coral Gables neighborhood. Granted, it is a new mall, but the sign designers skillfully tapped into the flavor of Miami.

Image of Signage for Sunset Place in Miami

Notice the slim retro font. That’s Miami. Notice the color-based three dimensions. That’s Miami. Notice the colors! So very Miami. In fact, it inspired me to develop a Miami color scheme, using Adobe Kuler:

Screenshot of color scheme inspired by Miami

The Adobe Kuler program is pretty easy to work with. I’ve used it before to pull colors from an image. In this case, with just my sun-filled memories, I simply moved the markers on the color wheel and adjusted the sliderules under each color square until I felt like I was back on A1A, beachfront avenue. I can see going through the same procedure to develop a color scheme based on a classroom observation, a rural site visit, or set of interviews with inmates. How could you represent the flavor of your evaluation project?

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Kuler/Color

Here’s a procedure I use all the time to help me select color combinations for my reporting. It makes use of this great, free, online program that takes all the scientific color theory stuff and translates it for those of us without a MFA.

First, I head to my client’s website and take a screenshot of their logo.

Then I go to this cool program, called Adobe Kuler (pronounced “color,” I’m pretty sure) at kuler.adobe.com. This is a color picking website. Once you sign in, you can upload your image. Here I have my client’s logo I just stole from their website. And the program picks out the exact colors from the logo.

Once I save, I can click a little sliderule icon that gives me the RGB color codes. With those color code numbers, I can customize the palette of my word-processing and presentation software programs to match my colors to those of my client.

I just write down those RGB color codes and head over to Word. Here I’m showing a screenshot where I transferred the RGB codes from Kuler into the Custom Colors option (right-click on, say, Heading 1 in the Styles menu and select Modify, then click on the arrow by the color menu, go down to More Colors, and click on the Custom tab).

In the same area you can modify the font, justification, etc. Once you have set up your page layout the way you’d like, go to the Themes button and select “Save Current Theme.” This will allow you to access to these settings on other Word documents and even in other Office programs like Excel or PowerPoint. I like to name the theme after my client and use the theme consistently in all of my work with them.

Why go to all that trouble? Because now you have an intentional tone that communicates consistency and belonging with your client’s work, and that’s what evaluation should be.