Less than 50 miles northwest of the famed city of Birmingham rests the medieval city of Shrewsbury, the quiet hamlet that is home to 96,000 residents and not much else. To be fair, Shrewsbury in Shropshire actually offers residents and guests of the city wide-ranging cultural experiences; they were just having difficulty proving that to outsiders. In a bid to popularize the city among tourists, the city sanctioned £25,000 to be used towards a new brand identity and campaign, which was created by London agencies &Smith and We All Need Words.
The designers knew they were looking for a way to tie the community and local businesses together, but which could be used or even applied by proprietors themselves. The result? The “One-Off”, a graphic stamp device that brings the campaign to life within the town’s small shops. The stamp is faced with the slogan “A Shrewsbury One-Off Since…”, cutting off where users can fill in a time signature, allowing all business owners to personalize the brand for the promotion of their own wares.
From the “One-Off” the campaign grew to encompass other, more visual aspects of Shrewsbury life. Typographic elements inspired by the wood-beamed Tudor buildings that are so prevalent around the city are printed on business cards, catalog covers, and tote bags alike. The patterns are coupled with modified Dalton Maag typeface Efra and laid over photographs depicting charming idiosyncrasies (16th-century wood scrawl labeled “Graffiti”) which highlight the town’s (still-intact) history.
“We wanted to come up with a shorthand for Shrewsbury,” explains Rob Mitchell of We All Need Words. “If Hay-on-Wye is books, what is Shrewsbury? The more time we spent there, the more we realised that Shrewsbury has lots of things to talk about. We had to come up with a way to sum that up that was memorable and could be used in lots of ways by different people.”