Shannon Hanley-Devitz is a Brookfield, Ohio-based graphic designer for Paramount Games and is heavily active in her community. In this interview, we touch on her experience with designing a new albeit unofficial logo for Brookfield.

 

1. What is your background in design? Where did you get started?
In 2005 I received a BFA at Youngstown State University, with a Major in Graphic Design

 

2. What type of design or designers inspire you? What kind of work do you see that makes you jealous?
I love typography and logo design. The designers that can hand letter make me crazy, jealous.

 

3. What do you think of your community? What is it’s positives and negatives?
Positives: Brookfield is, for the most part, a laid back, quiet township. The streets are not crowded, The school is on the smaller side, you have a nice mix of farms and a handful of neighborhoods, houses are affordable and most people that live here have been here for generations. I’m not from here and sometimes I view that as a negative. Trying to introduce new ideas/perspectives on things at times is intimidating. We are an older community with our fair share of baby boomers and the elderly. Currently, as it stands today we are not going above and beyond to try and attract young families/people to our township. There is very little business growth and most commercial buildings that are for sale or lease are not listed on the Internet. We have the potential to be better than we are but, most people are content with the way things are and that frustrates me.

4. How involved are you in your community?
We moved here in November 2017 as it stands today, I would say I’m moderately involved. I have protested the injection wells that are being placed close to homes in our township. I have been on the Zoning Committee who tried to get zoning passed (again) last November. I have donated my design skills for flyers, banners etc. to help the efforts to pass the school levy both in November and this past election in May. I have attended trustee meetings, neighborhood meetings and always try to stay in the loop to help educate my friends and neighbors on what’s happening within our community and remind them of the importance of getting involved. I would like to be more involved in the future but for now, balancing a full-time job, a freelance business and a young family is enough!

5. What problems do you hope to resolve through your community participation?
First, I would like to develop a neighborhood association for my neighborhood. We have a neighborhood Facebook page but I would like to take it a step or two further. I hope to connect the neighbors who would like to get involved in the preservation of our neighborhood and also start a crime watch group. Then I would like to get involved with the rotary club. It’s lacking the involvement of younger people and I hope being in that club with them we can start getting the attention of businesses and get current and future residents excited about being located in Brookfield. Lastly, we do not have any Zoning codes in place so anything can go anywhere. What we do have a nicely laid out Property Maintenance Code so my hope is to make people aware of this code and help clean up portions of our township. The ultimate goal would be to give the members of this community a renewed sense of pride in where we live.

6. How does your community view design, marketing, and communication?
The communication aspect is somewhat there. The rest are dated/non-existent.

7. How well do you think your community uses design, marketing, and communication?
My opinion, we really have not taken much time to look into marketing or design.  We have a dated logo, and a hard to navigate website. We are taking steps in the right direction in the communication department. We have a township Facebook page, 1 trustee has a twitter account that he uses to also notify people about meetings, a digital message board that is located in the center of our township, and a Brookfield based newspaper.

8. How can your community grow through the proper use of design, marketing, advertising?
#1 thing we can do is get people “something to talk about”.  We can actually be on the radar!  From young families looking for affordable housing to manufacturers looking to locate in our industrial areas, we can create a buzz around our community. Change is scary but we NEED to broaden our tax base, get people interested in relocating to Brookfield and try and retain our youth. People want things to do and as it stands today we are limited as to what we have to offer. Creating a cohesive, modern design that aligns itself with our past and our hopes for future will send the message that we are a nice, safe place to live and raise a family or start/move your business.

9. How would you use design to solve your community’s problems?
First thing I do when research a community is “google it”. Right now when you look us up “on paper”…you wouldn’t be impressed. I hope through my involvement (if given the opportunity) I can help make us more marketable to future businesses /home buyers and also help the current residents feel more included, give them a renewed sense of pride within our community. Starting off by creating a “Welcome to Brookfield” brochure that outlines community events, website/FB, important phone numbers, restaurants, stores/ property maintenance code info, etc. that can be given to new residents, businesses would make a HUGE impact. Showing off what we have to offer in an easy to read, quick, the brochure could help push someones decision to move here or locate their business here.

10. Does your community have a brand, if so, what do you think of it? If not, what kind of brand solution did you have in mind when you created the Brookfield, Valley View, and West Hill logos?
In my opinion, we do not currently have a brand. The 2 neighborhood logos I started with are located in different areas of the township. Valley view is in Brookfield and the area nicknamed the West Hill is located in Masury. Having 2 different zip codes within 1 township should call for cohesiveness within the designs. We are one and have to work together as one so that’s they carry the same colors, fonts, and similar layouts.

11. Describe your creative process when creating the unofficial Brookfield township logo? Why did you make the choices you made? Do you think your solution with resonate with the community?
I didn’t want to go ultra modern with the typeface because we are a more traditional, conservative community. The image of the Gazebo was chosen because that is our central gathering place in the township. We hold parades, Meetings, Weddings etc. on our “Green”’ and the gazebo is the heart of that space. The slogan “building for the future” was something I personally hope for, for our community. The color blue was chosen because of our school colors, navy blue, and gold.

12. The West Hill and Valley view logos are similar designs, acting as a sub-brand of the main Brookfield logo. What was your thought process in designing both of these logos?
We are unique as that we have Brookfield and Masury both fall under the “Brookfield Township” umbrella. Making sure the neighborhoods in both areas have the same look and feel to their identity sends an important message to residents and visitors that we are one township.

13. What do you think of the current, official logo seal of Brookfield? Do you know who originally made it or where it came from?
The logo is dated but it tells our story. I have not researched as to who made it /when it was made.

14. Where do you see yourself in 5,10,15 years in your community? Any interest in starting a community development corporation or running for office?
Short term, Yes I hope to start a community development corp. for our community. The long-term goal is up in the air…stay tuned

15. Where do you see your career in design in 5, 10 years?
I (literally) married into the Paramount Games family so, ill still be a designer for them for the foreseeable future. My dream is to one day to have my own freelance design studio and hopefully fill my afternoons and evening with fun, creative projects, and make a space for designers, makers to gather/create.

16. How can folks like you, in other communities, kick-start their own community re-branding initiative?
Attend meetings, get involved first. Learn about what is happening in your area and then start the conversation about re-branding. I know that most government entities do not necessarily view design/branding as a priority so I chose to create the identity on my own then, I will present it when the time is right.

17. What towns or cities would you suggest rebrand themselves, and why?
I have not done any research on other communities. My main focus is currently on my township.

18. If Brookfield continues to not embrace design, where do you think they will compare to their neighbors that do (in the not too distant future?)
What we currently have will continue to look dated in comparison. The surrounding communities are embracing change we must move in the direction. Our Comprehensive plan outlines the need for marketing and identity. I feel as if there is no choice but for us to go in that direction.

19. Anything you’d like to add? Free comments here.
I just want to thank RJ/Plus Public for his time and thoughtful questions, I had to dig deep to answer these. I have an opportunity to make change through my actions and my designs. Thank you for giving me a platform to get my message out about my community.

You can learn more about Shannon by visiting her on LinkedIn

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