Lantern's Director, Ryan Tym, discusses the rebranding of two neighbourhoods in two major cities with Communicate magazine.
Following a number of recent placemaking projects of our own and hot on the heels of our work for Newington being shortlisted in the 'Best Place or Nation Brand' category at the Transform Awards, Lantern spoke to Amy Sandys from Communicate magazine about the rebranding of King's Cross, by London agency SomeOne and Union Square, by C&G Partners. Read an abridged version of the article below.
Written by Amy Sandys
Read the full feature in Communicate magazine
For the transport hub-cum-entertainment centre of King’s Cross, London, and the bustling, neighbourhood-oriented Union Square, in New York City, updated brand imagery and rejuvenated area design coincide with the establishment of a new sense of identity. Both places are well-known, developing over decades to offer more than just good coffee, but each was liable to be overshadowed in favour of newer, more modern developments in their respective cities.
Both King's Cross and Union Square denote important points in London and New York history; an intriguing mix of character, heritage and community mean King’s Cross and Union Square are spatially, economically and socially primed for change. Recent intervention by urban development agencies imbues each place with a renewed urgency, firmly rooting each area in its historic sense of place while forming a future-facing identity enduring enough to ensure success.
For King’s Cross, ‘ghost signs’ and the area’s industrial history are highlighted; for Union Square, it is the concept of partnership which filters through each facet of its identity. London and New York have always been linked by a common sense of identity and purpose. By identifying each place’s distinctiveness, their value endures.
Opinion by Ryan Tym, Director, Lantern
"Despite representing iconic areas in two of the world’s best-known cities, the brand identities of King’s Cross and Union Square couldn’t feel more different. On the surface, SomeOne’s King’s Cross identity system has the feel of a polished, developer-led project, while Union Square’s identity feels like a neighbourhood, resident-led initiative. In both cases, that’s probably the point. Place branding can live or die through authenticity, so it’s crucial that the vision the identity promises is matched by the in-person reality.
"Despite representing iconic areas in two of the world’s best-known cities, the brand identities of King’s Cross and Union Square couldn’t feel more different"
– Ryan Tym, Director, Lantern
The KX monogram is the hero of the King’s Cross identity system, perfectly capturing the decade-long transformation of the London destination and reflecting a creative, cultural hub that’s dynamic and ever-changing. This is emphasised when the marque is deconstructed to form the supporting, graphic pattern. Colophon’s unique typeface is an intelligent nod to the area’s heritage and when headlines are paired with soft, pastel colours, the two create a premium look that reflects the ‘post-industrial chic’ SomeOne describes.
C&G Partners has undoubtedly focused on the people of Union Square. Photos of residents and visitors play a crucial role in showing the diversity and energy of the neighbourhood. Conversely, the logo seems to consciously avoid capturing that spirit, or any unique sense of place. Instead, the wordmark appears wholly functional, acting as a sign-off to communications or a lock-up device for events, partnerships and messaging.
The identity system comes alive through event sub-brands, such as ‘Summer in the Square’ and ‘Harvest in the Square’, where illustration begins to provide a sense of energy. As a brand for the community, Union Square hits the right tone, but as an outsider, it could do more to capture what makes the place so special".