Students brand a county: A case study of the process of branding a public agency

Patricia Murphey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper is a case study on a partnership formed between Coconino County Arizona and the VisualDESIGNLab. Coconino County is situated in the northern part of Arizona and is the second largest county in the United States; the VisualDESIGNLab is a practicum environment in the Visual Communication program at Northern Arizona University. The presentation will illustrate the learning process experienced by both the students and the client and walk through all the development phases of the brand redesign. The first phase proposed by the Lab, was the design of a brand audit to assess the county's brand awareness and equity and to understand the constituent's perceptions of the county's current brand. Following this first phase, the students learned that goals and objectives needed to be set to deal with the delicate politics involved in branding a public agency. My intent is to showcase this rare experiential learning opportunity, where undergraduate students redesigned an extensive and complex brand identity and to present the Coconino brand identity project from research, audit, design, standards, until the implementation phase. I will also discuss the future work the students will develop in the evaluation phase, which will provide crucial information to help measure the brand's performance over time. The students and the county will analyze how the responses to the brand will affect their positioning in the community and what are the long-term effects of such a positioning change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-630
Number of pages10
JournalDesign Principles and Practices
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2011


  • Afterlife
  • Brand identity
  • Branding
  • Case study
  • Collaboration
  • Collaborative design
  • Design education
  • Design methodology
  • Design pedagogy
  • Design process
  • Design projects
  • Experiential learning
  • Graphic design education
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Management
  • Planning
  • Practice focus
  • Practicum learning
  • Visual communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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