Something awesome is happening in Detroit.
This sort of goes without saying, though it might surprise some outsiders to hear. In the past few years, Detroit has been fighting ups and downs as usual. But this time i’ve seen a number of non-profit granting creative community hub information exchange organizations popping up. These young entrepreneurs are scary educated, as well as determined, and pledge to transform Detroit into the next Portland. This arguably recession-inspired economic development has been gaining media attention nationally. From Detroit SOUP to D:hive, we’re seeing the city becoming a humming welcome to innovators and green future global growth connector engagers. Of course, this comes at the same time that the city is wrestling over bankruptcy, faced with no funding for basic public services such as street lighting, garbage pickup, and even police and firefighters. The Detroit dichotomy. But that’s for a more qualified writer to discuss.
Enter: Detroit Dog Park. Detroit Dog Park is one of such organizations of ambitious young professionals that saw a need and has made a pledge to meet it. Dog parks are a symbol of a thriving and self-actualized city (Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, New York). i myself ended up leaving the city after living there for 5 years partly because i knew i wanted a large dog, and found the answer to how to exercise such a beast on a daily basis tricky. Fast forward to 2012, when we have been approved to transform a lot adjacent to famous Detroit landmark Michigan Central Station into a doggie playground haven.
This has proven to be the most involved freelance project i’ve taken on, and i’ve made the acquaintances of some brilliant, wonderful people who are taking a real stance on positive change in Detroit.
i happened upon Detroit Dog Park years ago through an accidental friend-of-a-friend notification on facebook. (i have an extremely love-hate relationship with facebook’s inherent oversharing of information. Usually it is more hate than love, but this is an instance where i was glad for it.) Very shortly after i joined, the group was holding a logo contest. Being an opportunistic freelance designer with a lifelong seldom-rivaled passion for canines, i came up with something and submitted. Then got about half of my facebook to vote for my design (thanks guys, you are the best).
My design was pretty simple and based loosely on a few other relevant Detroit business logos that i related with the prosperity and grassroots growth of the city, like Canine to Five and City Bird. i thought people would associate the block color, skyline and simple cutout figures with a modern, thriving Detroit that already carried those connotations with the similar look of other local logos. (A side note – Canine to Five is a huge supporter of what we’re doing!) i thought the clean, apple green and white would indicate a new feeling about Detroit. The logo contest runner-up, DistinkDesigns, applied the term “unleashed,” and Detroit Dog Park incorporated that into the final logo as well.
From there the identity took on a clean dark grey as i was asked to create business cards, flyers and other promotions. More recently, for our Kickstarter campaign (which comes to a head in just 9 days – December 17th!), i added pops of bright cyan, to call the right kind of attention to our usual branding that people had been used to seeing around the city, to say, hey. This is new and awesome.
With our Kickstarter campaign has come an unexpected (and very welcome) amount of media attention, and we have been so far featured on mLive Michigan News, Curbed Detroit, AltDetroit, the Huffington Post, the Detroit News, the Free Press, CBS Local, and even had a morning news TV spot on Click On Detroit (Channel 4 News).
And here i was filled with pride when Justin and i sidled up to the Detroit Dog Park tent at Tour de Troit in September, and saw a table spread with our banner, stickers, and volunteers. i’m sorry, but i was kind of geeked to see my logo on TV.
For our next appearance, look for us at Detroit SOUP presenting our idea for a rain barrel system in the park. Winning the grant for this expense would free up money for us to use the $15,000 from our Kickstarter campaign on other elements of the park, like gates, fencing, benches, and poop bag dispensers. (Yeah, i said it.)
It started with a logo contest that i thought would be a good fit for me, and has culminated with hours of meetings, brainstorming and a branding campaign that have all been surprisingly eye-opening for me. My buddy Calvin, normally an oversharing heart of gold involved-in-everything-we-do super cuddler, is on his way to becoming arguably more socially learned than his owners, and loves the monthly Pop-Up Dog Parks that have been hosted at Old Tiger Stadium in lieu of an upcoming permanent park.
This has proven to be the most involved freelance project i’ve taken on, and i’ve made the acquaintances of some brilliant, wonderful people who are taking a real stance on positive change in Detroit. It’s been an exhilarating experience, and i’m continually amazed by what this group of people has been able to accomplish. i hope to update again in the summer when our little logo is situated firmly on the front gate.
See below to watch our Kickstarter video (Calvin and i make a dorky cameo at 1:15), and go to http://kck.st/RJAFpq to back our project. We have some cool Detroit-themed rewards to thank you for your donation!