City of Sandusky

Case Study

Brand Strategy, Signage

The City of Sandusky sits at the mouth of Sandusky Bay and claims over 26 miles of Lake Erie’s shoreline. Rich in cultural and historic character, the city is centrally located between two metros, and anchored primarily by lake recreation and the Cedar Point amusement park. A central business district continues to undergo a resurgence of investment and business attraction to support tourism and visitors.

Objective

Build a wayfinding and signage program that simplifies navigation and communicates Sandusky’s brand throughout their vibrant downtown.

Challenge

Best known for Cedar Point, Sandusky has a lot more to offer beyond the thrill of roller coasters. The city has developed into a diverse Lake Erie port town and gateway to nearby island recreation destinations. However, limited public awareness around community assets outside of Cedar Point meant visitors were missing out much of what Sandusky has to offer.

The city engaged Guide Studio in creating a wayfinding and signage program to help people find area amenities that attract visitors and spur economic investment.

“We wanted to avoid taglines and slogans; it’s more about reminding people how special Sandusky is and reinforcing those assets in a contemporary way.”

Eric Wobser,City Manager, City of Sandusky

Solutions

  • Collaborated with city officials to capitalize on Sandusky’s beautiful natural setting, lakefront, and historic neighborhoods. The comprehensive brand strategy and wayfinding system champion a special experience beyond the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” inspiring visitors to extend their stay in the city.
  • Developed a full-scale signage system based on a mosaic-style logo created for the city’s bicentennial celebration. Bearing a nautical design, the signage points the way to Sandusky’s bustling waterfront downtown.
  • Carefully planned wayfinding and signage to support business owners and operators and direct folks to the downtown entertainment district. City leaders understand that attracting even a small percentage of Cedar Point traffic would transform visitors into advocates, resulting in a tremendous impact on local businesses.
  • Helped build a stronger waterfront experience that emphasizes a “vacation lifestyle” that is unique to the region. Residents, investors and other stakeholders with a deep connection to the Erie Shores and Islands region are encouraged to come back for more.

“The goal is to give people a sense of arrival not only to Sandusky, but to our core and historic district as well. We’re building on existing assets like Cedar Point while letting visitors know there is an entire city they can explore.”

Eric Wobser

Results

The wayfinding program was a piece of a larger branding puzzle, attracting visitors and new business to downtown and the surrounding community. Named “Best Coastal Small Town” in the 2019 USA Today Readers’ Choice Poll, Sandusky continues to position itself as a welcoming place for regional residents, investors, and visitors.

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