State of Tennessee – Identity

When citizens think of government, efficiency isn’t always top of mind. Yet, the State of Tennessee wanted to be more effective for citizens by taking multiple marks and creating one consistent graphic identity to strengthen their brand.

Creating the first identity system for the state was a huge ask. The system had to bring together 23 individual departments, and it had to include brand guidelines and sub-logos for each department. The system also needed to work across all applications, such as signage, brochures, letterhead, computers and more.

The Process

We started by talking with different state departments and citizens as well as researching what has worked for other states and private organizations. Through the process, it became clear that a “Branded House” model would increase efficiency and maximize clarity. The Branded House approach would also build equity since it allows the state to leverage all 23 agencies as part of a strong enterprise.

Our next step was to dive in and see how other governments and private sector businesses had solved similar problems as well as researching Tennessee history. From all this, we developed a wide range of marks that explored the Tri-Star, geography, department symbols and more. We knew wherever we landed, the individual mark needed to ladder up to the overall vision.

Coexisting with the State of Tennessee’s Rich Heritage

In order to create a simple and ownable mark, we didn’t want to borrow heavily from the state iconography. We decided that would mean avoiding the Tri-Star—which you can see in thousands of applications. Instead, we developed a mark that took cues from the state flag to work in harmony with other symbols of the state.

One Mark for Tennessee — Inspired by History, Pointed at the Future

After exploring hundreds of directions, we landed on a simple and clear mark that is easily recognizable and scalable. This system brings all the departments into one branded house. Most importantly, the mark and system let people know they are not 23 individual departments, but instead we are one statewide enterprise doing great things for the citizens of Tennessee.

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