One of the things that make Anchorage a great city is it’s world-class trail system. The trails have been an organic entity, growing over the years into an integral part of the city’s infrastructure. Providing access to outdoor leisure and transportation, it really has become an interconnected circuit system that ties us all together as a community. It was time for the city to capitalize on the system as a marketing tool and to enhance user experience. The first step, is to create a brand identity for the trail system.
About the process – Before creating anything, I needed to wrap my mind around the entire system. I noticed it shared similarities to other major city infrastructures; as in it’s expanded throughout the city with thousands of subscribers using it in their own unique way. Systems like these use simple shapes that are immediately recognizable. Transit signage and traffic signs were a good reference. So I set out to make a distinctive symbol for the Anchorage Trails system.
I started by doing tons of sketches, trying to break down “Anchorage Trails” to its core elements. The initial letter “A” provided a strong shape to work with. Not only that, but it was full of content waiting to be developed… The “A” itself served as a symbol for Anchorage. It’s overall main shape could be seen as an arrow, which symbolizes direction, navigation or access the system provides. This shape also lends itself well to symbolising the Anchorage outdoors. Mountains are a very unique aspect of the landscape. The crossbar inside the letterform was a hidden gem. By removing everything that wasn’t the crossbar, a trail emerged. So, one simple shape carries with it all this content.
A publicly used system as huge as this will need some iconography. Its important for everything to fit together visually, like a family. The identity system was expanded to accommodate individual trails as sub-brands. For visual continuity, icons were redrawn to reflect the distinctive style of the main mark.
Visual symbols are a quick way to find your bearings. Major areas along the trails, i.e. parks and neighborhoods, were symbolized based on landmarks or community trademark. These city icons were developed to be used as part of a way finding system.
These posters are part of a proposed concept to familiarize users with the entire system. Its the map of the trail system that’s been totally stripped down and simplified into an abstract piece of art.