City of Kent Branding & Wayfinding

Case Study

Brand Champions, Brand Identity, City of Kent, Sign System

Downtown Kent is home to the well-known Kent State University in Ohio. With historic roots and a vibrant, eclectic and creative community, Downtown Kent offers a unique visitor experience that is always evolving. After an extensive redevelopment process, the downtown area now brims with personality and has been transformed into a true destination.


Every college town has the hope of becoming a destination. While the re-development efforts addressed the infrastructure, Downtown Kent needed to champion their brand identity through wayfinding to stand tall as it’s own destination.

“We wanted to instill a sense of ‘you have arrived’ when people walked or drove around the city. To do that, we needed to strengthen the connection between all of our amenities.”

James Bowling,Superintendent of Engineering/Deputy Service Director at City of Kent

City of Kent Logo
City of Kent Wayfinding


  • Collaborate with brand identity work done by Kent State students to gain a deeper understanding of the community’s character and develop a brand identity that illustrates the city’s creative and eclectic personality, while honoring the its historic industrial roots.
  • Create a signage program that capitalizes on positive entry experiences such as natural “gateway cues,” leverages authentic architectural features.
  • Kent Speaks: Wayfinding signage that is direct and speaks to the people instead of just directing them. This fosters a deeper sense of engagement. For more information on “Kent Speaks,” check out the Intersection of Wayfinding and Branding position paper.
  • Develop a customized wayfinding banner series that guides visitors through the intuitively mapped routes, while telling the story of the community.

“We’ve always had a welcoming atmosphere and lots of things to do, but now our wayfinding accentuates our best qualities.”

James Bowling,Superintendent of Engineering/Deputy Service Director at City of Kent

City of Kent Wayfinding


The Kent main street organization embraced the plan and soon noticed various stakeholders responding to the authentic personality that was injected into the brand. Kent Speaks inspired the community to use its unique theme in further downtown and parks’ programming. Downtown Kent championed the new identity helping cement their status as a true visitor destination.

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