Tempe, Arizona

For those drawn to a place brimming with energy, Tempe is home to Arizona State University and centered in Arizona yet standing apart, where hearts and sciences lead the way.
Downtown, Economic Development
About This Project

Key Challenge

Overshadowed…From the outside looking in, Tempe has the reputation of a college town that likes to party. The city is home to Arizona State University, which has more than a few accolades to celebrate, including being ranked #1 for innovation three years in a row. So sure, ASU students may be loud and prone to revelry. But look past the youthful crowds, and it becomes clear that Tempe is about more than pomp and circumstance.

Critical Insight

North Star’s research revealed that the town-gown relationship in Tempe is mutualistic—the city and the university offer a complement of advantages, one serving as an extension to the other. The two share a drive for innovation and a culture of acceptance and caring. Fittingly, city government leads by example in demonstrating these principles: it made a lake in the middle of the desert; it was the first to be led by an openly gay mayor and it continues to enact progressive and inclusive policies before most of its peers. Perhaps as a result of this forward thinking, Tempe’s economy is thriving. The city is a desirable location for corporate headquarters and startups, both of which are fueled by the exchange of ideas between the private sector, ASU, and the city’s residents. Tempe is also a net importer of workers, which adds to a talent base already rich with intelligent, ambitious ASU graduates. And when Tempeans are not hard at work, they stay busy with arts, sports, events, and dining around Downtown, ASU, Tempe Town Lake, and local parks. It’s no surprise that many praise the eclectic energy of Tempe as a city that is young-at-heart, unlike Arizona in general.

Brand Identity

The Tempe difference is more about attitude than the city’s many unique assets. It is home to an educated workforce placed perfectly in the midst of a youthful zeal in the north and an urban downtown with suburban growth in the south. Together, all parts of Tempe have the kind of impact that really makes a difference in the world: the line “Making waves in the desert” perfectly encapsulates the idea that Tempe is a force to be reckoned with in central Arizona—plus it’s a sly nod to the city’s perplexing water feature. Visually, Tempe already used an iconic mark across the community, particularly in infrastructure: so North Star recommended an update to the typeface and color palette, as well as activating the sun motif which was previously a flat orange sphere. With minor adjustments to the T structure and an evolution of the color palette, the logo remained as vivid and bright as the community it represents.