Introducing a New Face For a Pillar of the Community

Westminster Buffalo is an impressive organization that is many important things at once to the Western New York community:

  • It is a uniquely progressive Presbyterian Church with a 160-year-plus history of principled risk-taking, community engagement, and social progressivism.
  • It is a bustling secular early childhood school serving hundreds of local children and families.
  • It is a tireless champion for the disadvantaged in our city, enacting real change on their behalf.

Here at Block Club, we always strive to partner with other progressive organizations that work to make our community a better place. So, we were honored and thrilled when Westminster entrusted us with the extremely important task of refreshing its brand.

The Brand Refresh Process

Our high-level goal on this project was to help Westminster better communicate its unique position and overall value to the myriad audiences it speaks to and position the organization for sustained success and growth. This process began, as most of our branding work does, with a series of information-gathering sessions, during which we got to visit the Westminster campus, meet many Westminster team members, and hear from their perspective about Westminster’s institutional strengths and challenges.

While all projects and all clients are absolutely unique, it became clear upon learning more about Westminster that creating a brand that encapsulates such a special and multifaceted institution that so many people are so passionately invested in would be a particularly interesting and special challenge.

The Westminster team, led by Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Yorty, brings an intellectually rooted commitment to its work, which sees the classic teachings of their faith through a modern lens, seamlessly intertwined with modern theories of social justice reform, inclusivity, and lifelong learning. At the same time, for all its modern progressivism, Westminster is a formal and distinctly Christian organization, operating out of an elegant gothic cathedral boasting gorgeous stained glass windows, medieval architectural detail, and a one-of-a-kind classical pipe organ.

The Brand Refresh Payoff

Creating a visual identity that wove together these threads into a single, cohesive representation and did justice to the passion and investment of the stakeholders involved was a challenge that led us to research, explore, and develop many, many potential solutions. Ultimately, we arrived at a visual identity system that is simple, serene, inspiring, elegant, and welcoming:

At the heart of the new visual identity system is a circular brandmark rich with layered symbolism that is simultaneously abstract, literal, natural, and historical. This rosette-style mark is constructed from a series of evenly overlapping circles, which ultimately form one unified meta-circle with a shared space at its center, representing themes of community, growth, and commonality at once. The elements that overlap to create this mark are meant to represent community and also double as the many different arms of Westminster’s organization coming together around a common cause.

The visually implied continuation of the circles beyond the boundaries of the mark itself represents Westminster’s radiating commitment to the greater Western New York community beyond its own walls. For the church, it also represents the Westminster congregation gathering to celebrate their shared beliefs, while for the school, it represents a community of caring adults around a child, helping to guide the child as he or she blossoms and grows. On a more literal level, the style and colors of the mark directly reference the gorgeous stained glass windows that dominate the physical space of the cathedral. When used for the church and organization at large, the traditional Christian symbol of a cross rests at the very center of the design; for use with the secular early childhood educational program, a simple heart symbol denotes nurturing and care.

The ornate nature of the brandmark is juxtaposed with a modern sans serif wordmark, lending a fresh and distinctly contemporary look to the brand and helping to strike the appropriate balance between traditional and modern in the logo lockup. The customized typography is simple and unadorned but friendly and clean feeling.

While we took great care to develop a mark that works for all the components that fall under the Westminster umbrella, we also recognized their need to have flexibility in how they refer to themselves visually. And so, in addition to creating a number of alternate lockups and colorways, we also created this same system of logos with a number of different identifiers for Westminster’s various sub-brands as well as their collective voice. The end result is a very large and dynamic identity system that should provide this multifaceted client with ultimate flexibility for any audience or application while maintaining brand integrity throughout.

We are excited to see this brand blossom and continue to grow as it’s put into use by Westminster’s caring and thoughtful team and our continued partnership.