A peek at the design process behind the Hull 2017 brand

Published: Wednesday 22nd March 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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With awareness campaigns and creative activity spread throughout the city and beyond, you must surely have seen the Hull 2017 branding by now.

But do you know the story behind “More to the story”?

Yesterday evening the C4DI hosted a presentation by Ben Marshall, Deputy Creative Director at Jaywing. Based in Sheffield, the media agency created Hull’s new brand from scratch.

We popped down to find out more about the mindset, imagination and passion required to reinvent an entire city’s identity.


“Throw yourself into culture,” Ben began, capturing Hull 2017’s philosophy and mission in four words.

The screen then flipped through various images of initial branding concepts, which revolved around a ball shape. The idea was to use a circle or sphere in many different ways as part of the core logo design.

As is always the case with the development of a new brand, this first idea was soon scrapped.

“The challenge was to create something brutally honest. Something that could be recognised by both your mate in the army and your granny,” explained Ben.

“I haven’t met a tax driver in Hull who isn’t openly proud of the city. That’s what we set out to capture in visual format.”

The presentation moved onto the development of the brand that we now know very well. From the very start, the requirements were that it would be strong, yet allow room to “flex, change, evolve and have flavour”.

Whilst a logo is the symbol that represents an organisation, the brand goes far deeper. It takes into account the language, accessibility, ethos and key messages, simultaneously remaining adaptable to different platforms.


The Hull 2017 logo adapted to support Hull Pride 2016

“There will never be a better time to rewrite the script about Hull,” Ben summed up nicely. “It’s a new personality that can reflect change.”

Whilst the Hull 2017 programme is split into three-month seasons (Made In Hull, Roots and Routes, Freedom, Tell the World), there are also three main invitations. These are “Look again”, “More to the story” and “Everyone back to ours”.

This trio of messages is self-explanatory and encourages people to get involved in different ways. From rediscovering the city and getting to know its secrets, to welcoming the world to join in the fun, it really is a friendly and open word palette.


“We didn’t come up with these messages by ourselves,” Ben added. “Jaywing interviewed 400 local residents and studied the data to create a brand built from the people up.”

When you take a good look at Hull 2017’s communications, this principle is evident throughout. The logo, campaigns and promotional materials are bright and bold, clear yet adaptive, full of confidence and with a quiet integrity, just like the people of Hull.

This also applies to adverts placed in other cities. For example, billboards in Liverpool simply state “Hello from one City of Culture to another,” a chirpy reference to the western city’s similar status back in 2008.

“The end result is a brand that’s considerate but not precious,” said Ben. “Hull is a city where anything can happen and will, and it’s time to get absolutely cultured!”

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Published: Wednesday 22nd March 2017 by Rich Sutherland

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