Golden State of Mind


Identify an ailing brand that has either lost market share or is in desperate need of revival. Thoroughly research and develop detailed audience profiles. Acting as a full-service agency, develop a re-branding proposal that includes a new mark, complete style guide, all business collateral, applicable retail space and product solutions, advertising, online presence and suggestions for extending the brand beyond its current product or service base. 


GOLDEN STATE OF MIND is a comprehensive re-branding program for the Oakland Museum of California

Identity + Mark  |  Illustration  |  Photography|  Editorial Design + Layout  |  Copy Writing + Editing


The typical approach to this project is to choose a consumer products brand, but I wanted to go in a different direction. I frequent museums, so the prospect of branding an educational environment as opposed to working with retail spaces and packaging was appealing.

The Oakland Museum of California was undergoing an extensive refurbishment and expansion at the time, so re-branding was ideal. I also hypothesized that the museum could expand beyond Oakland to four locations spread across California--San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego--and included this plan in my proposal. 

In terms of process and sketching, designing a new mark is probably the most laborious task a graphic designer can undertake. My final solution can be interpreted in many ways: a pinwheel, a sun, a flower. It also suggests the geometric flourishes of Spanish ceramic tile, a decorative staple since the earliest days of the Conquistadors. 

The core mission of the Oakland Museum is to celebrate three aspects of California: Natural Sciences, Art and History. I developed a system whereby the mark and its colors form multiple levels of meaning for these subjects in relation to the environments found within the state.

I also used these three as a metaphor for the structure of the proposal as a whole. History (1) covers past brands and market demographics. Sciences (2) then introduces the new mark and standards for its use, including site specifics like wayfinding. Finally, Art (3) showcases advertising, products and brand extensions. 


Airports, museums, libraries and universities all share similar challenges: conveying visitor information clearly in a variety of settings (and sizes). Originally commissioned for the Guggenheim Museum, Frere-Jones’ Verlag is ideal for large wayfinding systems because of its modern, highly legible geometric letters and 30 different weights. 

For body applications, I paired it with another Hoefler foundry creation. Designed for MARTHA STEWART LIVING magazine, Archer has sixteen different weights and versatile numeral sets. Both faces work well together because their x-heights, cap heights and optical kerning are nearly identical. 


The four hues employed in The Museum of California’s identity system are derived from the state’s diverse geography: desert and forest, ocean and city. I also use the palette internally to distinguish the three basic galleries of the museum and their levels: orange for history, green for sciences and blue for art. Miscellaneous areas (such as garages, stairwells and service access) are designated grey.