Elliott Bay Branding

Branding | Layout | Print
An old bookstore gets a new identity.


Elliott Bay Book Company is one of the few remaining brick and mortar bookstores located in the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It’s a destination for book lovers of all types and a hidden gem within the community. While the business has remained relevant, the brand has grown dated. This project began with the question of how might we create a refreshing and cohesive brand identity that embodies the character, personality, and literary tradition of the Elliott Bay Book Company, while expanding brand reach and opening the doors to a wider target audience.
Timeframe: 11 weeks
Roles: research, brand identity, print, layout, art direction, copywriting, environmental graphics
Tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Sketch


The goal of this project was to design a complete brand identity for Elliott Bay and to distill the company’s unique personality into one, cohesive visual language that creates consistency across brand touchpoints while expanding reach.

The end game was to build a memorable brand identity that resonates with the bookstore’s audience and creates a lasting impact.

Open doors, open minds, open books is a concept that embodies Elliott Bay’s spirit. It communicates a sense of limitless possibility. It’s an invitation to explore all of the nooks and crannies—curated, curious and imaginative.
The bookstore itself is a warm and welcoming space. Immersing myself in the physical environment and observing the people and space helped me understand the business.

The smell of old books, the diverse collection of people, the friendly & knowledgeable staff—all of these things influenced the brand re-design.

The brand wordmark was inspired by 19th-century typewriter fonts that flourished under the hands of the literary greats that defined an era. It’s open and inviting, timeless, and authentic.
In this line of business, words are important. For that reason, the brand’s tone of voice has been crafted to instill trust and confidence. The language is...

Inclusive, not exclusive.
Warm and welcoming, but not disingenuous.
Informed and intelligent, but never condescending.
Casual and conversational, but never inappropriate.
Humble, never boastful.
From event posters to “staff picks” book tags, many pieces of brand collateral have been templatized to facilitate ease-of-use and create consistency across brand channels and common customer touchpoints.
Elliott Bay’s secondary brandmark draws from the same influences found in the primary logo. The square mark gives the brand a more flexible kit of components to pull from when designing merchandise and other collateral.  
From the depths of the Salish Sea to the shores of Elliott Bay, brand colors were inspired by the landscapes of the pacific northwest, and give the brand a sense of place.
Elliott Bay's digital presence reflects the tone and atmosphere of the store's physical space. The landing screens are designed to feel open, spacious, and welcoming. The wordmark guides the viewers focus down the page, inviting them in to explore featured content, find events, or search for their favorite book.

In closing:

The Elliott Bay brand refresh is both familiar-feeling yet fresh. It’s steeped in nostalgia and informed by tradition, yet given the contemporary edge it needs to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive landscape.

The whole identity has been packaged up and documented in a comprehensive 48-page brand manual, ensuring consistency in tone across brand channels. The final result is an instruction manual—a comprehensive code of graphical ethics— for the application of the bookstore’s new brand.