By Misty Jones
For libraries to remain relevant and effective, we need to define ourselves and set a direction and identity. At the heart of setting this direction is remembering our core services, while adapting to our evolving internal and external environment. It means remaining open to new opportunities not yet envisioned, but still remaining true to ourselves and what we represent. By establishing a brand, libraries can identify themselves and their importance and relevance to their community.
In 2012, the San Diego Public Library (SDPL) began the much needed process of rebranding the library to better reflect the direction in which it was headed to meet the future needs of the community. The existing logo was just a placeholder graphic and never intended be used as a logo. But it was used for more than 30 years.
It was time for SDPL to redefine itself, and it was crucial to involve staff in this process. At an employee development day, staff was presented with several choices, and one logo clearly stood out. The chosen logo calls to mind many things, including the new Central Library’s iconic dome, which is a prominent feature in our skyline. The teal color reminded staff of San Diego’s ocean waves, and the orange reflects vivid sunsets and sun-drenched hills. That same day, staff completed exercises to define SDPL’s culture and decide how they wanted to present themselves to the community. From that process a tagline “Discover Your Next Chapter” was created. In addition, a “Who We Are” statement was established with five facets of SDPL’s core service that serve as the platform for building our future.
SDPL as Connector: Connecting is a vital part of who we are. For SDPL, connecting to the community, to the City, and to each other as library staff is what we are all about. The SDPL logo suggests hands joining together, echoing the library’s connection to the community and the branch libraries and Central Library’s connection to each other.
SDPL as a Literacy Leader: SDPL is dedicated to lifelong education, knowledge, exploration, and growth.
SDPL as a Cultural Convener: While SDPL continues to provide traditional library programming, we look for innovative ways to engage and create meaningful and lasting experiences for library users and those who do not traditionally use libraries.
SDPL as Technology Facilitators: With the role of technology increasing in our everyday lives, SDPL is committed to digital literacy and providing access to all kinds of technology.
SDPL as Guides to the Future: SDPL stimulates creativity that draws out hidden treasures and promotes thought-provoking exploration that leads to innovation.
The new brand encompasses everything we are and everything we do. Consistency is essential. To ensure uniformity, a staff committee was established to roll out the new brand. Templates and style guides were created, as well as cheat sheets, presentations, and training sessions. We developed new library cards, new flyers, and new shirts–all with the new logo and tagline.
While rebranding has given SDPL a more professional, identifiable, and updated look, the most important aspect of the change is how it has altered the way staff members think about themselves and portray themselves to the public. Staff members embrace the brand because they defined it. It has instilled a renewed pride about the programs and services they provide every day.
Like our tagline, the new brand has allowed SDPL to discover our next chapter so that we can help San Diego discover its next chapter.
This article was published in IMPACT Magazine Vol. 2.
Misty is the Director for San Diego Public Library. Misty believes libraries are the great equalizer, always inclusive and never exclusive. She thrives on change and believes that the strength of libraries is in their ability to redefine themselves to fit public need. It is because of this that she committed herself to library advocacy.