How do you define Roanoke? Dictionaries list it as a river or a city in southwest Virginia. Historians will tell you it is the Indian word for shell beads or a town whose growth was spurred by the coming of the railroad in the 1800s. In fact, there are many opinions of what Roanoke is. That’s why it was so important for city leaders to find a way to convey its true nature to the world.
In early 2003, the City of Roanoke decided to go forward with the development of a brand identity to better define its character and distinctiveness. A steering committee — representatives from city staff, city schools, local business owners and downtown organizations — was formed to guide the process.
Observations and opinions were solicited from a broad spectrum of the community including focus groups, individual interviews and man-on-the-street interviews. In addition, city leadership, city residents, and Roanoke Valley residents, as well as business and civic leaders, gave input into the process. From this information, a positioning statement was developed.
In addition, many concepts for potential visual identities were shared with the steering committee and tested through focus group research locally, nationally, and internationally before the selection of a final identity. The final selection received positive public reaction from all test-marketed areas including six North American cities and 13 countries including Mexico City, Hamburg, London, Madrid, Milan, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Dubai, Geneva and Stockholm.
We are proud to have a brand identity that makes a clearer, more powerful and more effective statement about who we are as we move into the future.
In a world where cities often feel loud and overcrowded and as hard as the concrete they’re built upon, the City of Roanoke offers something unique — unexpected balance. Roanoke has the amenities that you’d expect from a dynamic urban center, without losing the charming feeling of a smaller place. Roanoke is a city that encourages you to make things happen, because it’s big enough to provide multiple opportunities but small enough so you can make an impact. And the natural beauty that many cities lack has not been lost in Roanoke with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains visible from most every street.
The Roanoke identity visually expresses the soaring spirit of optimism that defines the city. The colors are a balance between urban sophistication and friendly charm. The mountain, made up of three individual and unique shapes, illustrates the balance and stability of the city. The gray portion represents the dynamic urban culture while the green is reminiscent of the charming neighborhoods and surrounding natural beauty. The cap of blue symbolizes the Blue Ridge Mountains that can be seen from almost every street in the city. The central star is derived from the well-loved icon atop Mill Mountain. The star embodies the heritage spirit of the city. The dynamic rays of light illustrate the energy of exciting new ideas and the ability to make things happen.
Importance of Visual Identity
Today’s environment is cluttered with competing messages and imagery that are distributed in an overwhelming volume. A distinct identity for the city of Roanoke cuts through this clutter by providing meaningful differentiation among other municipalities and regions. In defining this visual identity, we build a specific set of expectations about Roanoke that creates a positive and lasting impression that will be recognized by audiences, even outside of its normal context. A consistent identity reinforces the position of the city of Roanoke as a right-sized city, offering the amenities of a larger place. A city where you can make a difference if you choose.