Smith & Diction Creates an Ever-Evolving Visual Identity For Philadelphia’s Rail Park

Rail Park started as a pipe dream in Philadelphia, but is now an actual go-to destination with massive swings, art, trees, and everything else a park should be compromised of. The Philadelphia branding and design studio Smith & Diction is behind the new website for the park, which taps into the branding system through the use of repetition, neon flashes, and simply beautiful aesthetics.

It’s not easy to make a park feel “vibe-y,” but Smith & Diction has succeeded tremendously.

When we shared our initial branding for this project, the park itself didn’t exist. It was just a lofty dream that maybe—just maybe—Philadelphia could make a cool thing…for once. (Gritty and the Phanatic are the exceptions, they are dope as hell and will kick your ass.) Fast forward a bunch of years, and a lot of drama, including a fun little cease & desist letter from a “partner” organization (that’s a story for another time), and now the Rail Park is a real live place, with giant swings, beautiful art, towering trees, and lots of dogs peeing on stuff. Classic dog move.

We recently launched a new website for the Rail Park, so we thought it was the perfect time to write a̶ ̶l̶i̶t̶t̶l̶e̶ an extremely longwinded case study update on how the brand has evolved and grown over the past few years.

This is the second part in our two part series, so if you want to get the story on the new website, head on over to Part II tried my best to keep it all in one post but I don’t know how to edit myself. Smith & Diction at its finest baby.

One design concept I really got into with the brand was this idea of repetition, mimicking how the park sort of spontaneously combusted into existence over a long period of time, if that makes any sense. Once upon a time, a bunch of tree seeds fell off a freight train, eventually the trains stopped running, the trees grew through the seasons, dropping leaves, getting new ones, layer would fall on top of layer, creating soil, repeating for years and years, new seeds would find their way into the soil, they would take root and start the same process over and over again, and soon enough there was a beautiful oasis floating above and below the city.

One of the most unique parts of the park is the gigantic industrial swings at the end. What’s Rittenhouse got? A statue of a goat? Go on and get outta here with the goat and the weird Michael Jackson impersonator trying to make awkward eye contact. They are smooth though I’ll give them that.

We wanted to idolize those swings a bit, so we put them in beautiful, bright fluorescent ink on the cover of the maps so they would be impossible to miss amid the stacks of show flyers, takeout menus, business cards, and whatnot.

Read more at Medium here!

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