Today, we’re pleased to introduce you to John Kennedy, Senior Designer at Kolar. John is a multidisciplinary designer, currently working with our civic branding team to create signage & wayfinding systems for municipalities & parks.
Let’s get to know John and understand his perspective on the importance of branding for regionality & how wayfinding plays a role in the brand image of a community.


Why is civic wayfinding & signage critical for growing cities & regions?
Civic wayfinding and signage play a critical role in the development and growth of cities and regions for several important reasons:
As more areas of a city undergo change and growth, a clear connection to the older parts needs to remain to create a sense of community and to keep the city’s legacy of what originally drew people to move there.
It is important to ensure the new and growing population can navigate the city safely and are aware of the core destinations for the area that would go unnoticed or missed without proper signage. 


Navigation and Accessibility:
As cities and regions expand, they become more complex and diverse in terms of infrastructure, landmarks, and destinations. Effective wayfinding and signage systems provide clear and concise information to help residents, visitors, and commuters to navigate through the urban environment, making it easier to find desired destinations such as government buildings, tourist attractions, public transportation hubs, and commercial areas. This improves accessibility and reduces confusion, enhancing the overall experience of navigating the city.

Economic Development:
Cities and regions thrive when they attract tourists, businesses, and investments. An efficient wayfinding system can attract visitors and tourists by making it easier for them to explore the area without getting lost. This leads to increased spending on local businesses, boosts the tourism industry, and contributes to economic growth.

Identity and Branding:
Civic wayfinding and signage systems can help establish and reinforce the identity of a city or region. Consistent design, color schemes, and branding elements in signage contribute to a unified visual identity, creating a sense of place and making the city more memorable.

Supporting Tourism and Cultural Exploration:
As cities grow, they often become hubs of cultural diversity and heritage. Wayfinding systems can highlight historical sites, cultural attractions, and local landmarks, promoting tourism and encouraging residents and visitors to explore the area’s cultural richness.

Inclusivity and Accessibility:
A well-designed wayfinding system takes into consideration the needs of diverse populations, including those with disabilities. Accessible signage ensures that everyone, regardless of their abilities, can navigate and access public spaces and services.


How has the role of civic branding space changed as regions become more populated?
As regions become more populated, civic branding evolves to encompass a wider range of strategies and considerations. It becomes a tool for differentiation, community building, engagement, and attracting various stakeholders, both within physical spaces and in the digital realm. The role of civic branding in shaping the identity and perception of a region becomes even more vital as the population grows.


What is something that the public might not be aware of when it comes to civic wayfinding & signage?
Civic wayfinding and signage are not just about providing directions; they also involve careful consideration of human psychology and design principles. Signage designers take into account factors such as cognitive load, visual hierarchy, color psychology, and readability to create signage that is effective and user-friendly. At Kolar, while designing these systems through the lens of our internal methodologies, we aim to make the user experience as easy as possible.


How does civic branding create a lasting impact in a community?
In essence, civic branding is a powerful tool that goes beyond aesthetics. It’s about shaping the narrative, values, and aspirations of a community. When done effectively, civic branding creates a lasting and meaningful impact that enhances the community’s cohesion, prosperity, and resilience over time.


Has anything you learned through your experience at Kolar surprised you as things have evolved over the years?
There is more recognition of the need for placemaking and wayfinding signs but fewer are being created today than in the past. There is still a lack of understanding from the general public about the need and importance of wayfinding and how it impacts their experience.