Connecting with the urban research community

for Penn Institute for Urban Research

The Situation

Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR) is a leader in urban studies, research and planning at the University of Pennsylvania. Having been established ten years, the organization realized their print and digital materials were visually inconsistent and lacked credibility. It needed to communicate the depth of experience and knowledge Penn IUR has in the urban research community as well as create and manage a cohesive identity.

Our Approach

Leaning on an institutional brand known the world over, the greatest challenge was to maintain a semblance, but carve a new visual path wholly owned by Penn IUR. The iconic Penn red and blue palette served as the backbone of the new identity with added pops of color, a contrasting modern sans-serif and urban graphics and imagery. The resulting identity can be defined as progressive, urban, structured and completely Penn IUR.

One of our first engagements with Penn IUR was reimagining the annual report. Perhaps the most central vehicle for the organization’s communications efforts at the time, its annuals were used primarily to inform urban practitioners and academics on initiatives and policies affecting cities on the local, national and international levels. UNTUCK worked collaboratively to connect the disparate content elements into a central theme.

Penn IUR’s work centers on exploring, identifying and replicating urban innovation in cities as diverse as Philadelphia and Mumbai, Seoul and Nairobi. When the organization was invited to participate in a unique opportunity to help shape the global urban agenda at World Urban Forum in Medellín, we developed a series of postcards and exhibition panels for easy transport to the event.

On the digital front, Penn IUR was battling a content maelstrom of projects, publications, people, press releases and events. With a streamlined architecture, intuitive user interface, simple search, advanced filtering options and multiple content relationships, the new penniur.upenn.edu allows visitors to browse, and editors to create with ease, within the Expression Engine content management system.