Charlie Smith Design has created a bold and bright identity for NewRiver's 33 community-focused shopping centers. The new identity shows the positive power of design and illustration on large scale projects. The project also demonstrates how brands can have both structure and flexibility within a cohesive design system to appeal to local communities.
Founded in 2009, NewRiver specializes in buying, managing, and developing convenience-led, community-focused retail and leisure assets throughout the UK, with each of its shopping centers located in the heart of town centers, providing everyday shopping experiences. With a large portfolio, achieving design consistency has been a unique opportunity across NewRiver's retail environment. Charlie Smith Design has focused on new environmental graphics to create a new look and feel in NewRiver's retail spaces. Charlie Smith Design identified each step of the new retail branding process, including brand strategy, visual and verbal identity.
"Our shopping centres are local brands and we didn't want to change that, but we needed a solid design system to support our shopping centres that were friendly, fun and ownable to each community," commented Fabienne Morgan, Head of Commercial Design at NewRiver. "We saw Charlie Smith Design's playful hoardings and signage work and knew they would bring the fresh perspective and creative flair we needed for this project. We're so impressed with the result; it's really given our onsite teams a clear brand vision and the physical spaces a distinctive new voice to bring the assets to life."
The new environmental branding is bold, bright and playful. An arrow device connects the community to retailers, and this is paired with vibrant colors and hand lettering to add warmth. 12 color groups were created, with different color palettes for each center to choose from, so the tool-kit could be used in dynamic and different ways but still provides economies of scale and consistency.
"We needed the visual aspect of the new identity to reflect the friendly tone of voice we had created with copywriter Anna Whitaker," explained Charlie Smith, director and founder at Charlie Smith Design. "Both elements reflect the human side of the business, and that these shopping centres are both the pride and hub of their local communities.
"We're passionate about the impact of art on branding projects of this size, and commissioned illustrator Kate Sutton to create a set of playful illustrations and a series of hand drawn alphabets. Incorporating these bespoke hand-crafted elements offers a human connection and can really inject personality into the brand."
The project shows how retail branding can be an effective way to bring positive messaging and visuals into the community, proving that property specialists and developers do not need to rely on traditional color palettes, typography or corporate photography to have a reputable presence. Instead, property specialists and developers can have fun with design.