New City Church is a church in Indianapolis dedicated to authentic, hands-on spirituality for people on the city’s east side. They try to help people “live the life Jesus died to give them”, and ideally act as, “a preview of what the Kingdom of Jesus is like”.
They approached me for a new logo design to convey New City’s culture, and provide a more distinctive identity than their previous logo.
A distinct, strong and established mark that conveys New City Church as honest, accessible, authentic, intriguing, and earnest.
“Our experience of the design process with Ben was informative and encouraging. He asked excellent clarifying questions in order to extract the essence of what we desired to communicate. The end product was something we would not have guessed in the beginning—but something we would not change in the end! All in all, this was a fantastic experience and we are thrilled with the outcome.”
Senior Pastor, New City Church
Research and Exploration
New City is an unique church in several ways. They don’t meet in a church building, but rather in a local charter school. They have a strong local community, with most of the church’s members living within five miles or so of their meeting place. Their location in Irvington, Indiana, is an up-and-coming historical neighborhood bridging a middle-income suburban area, and a lower-income area on the east side of Indianapolis, so their potential attendees make up a wide range of socioeconomic statuses.
After researching characteristics of local churches, businesses, architecture, and other distinctive visual elements, I decided to look to Irvington’s elegant architecture, and the near east side’s bold painted sign lettering as inspiration for the final design. I began sketching to find a solution that would feel at home on the city’s east side, and convey the characteristics that New City Church embodies.
The concept of a city gateway stood out among the various concepts I explored. A city gateway conveys strength and protection, as well as intrigue since it gives only a partial view of what’s beyond. Early versions took a more illustrative approach, but further reflection prompted me toward a simple and slightly abstract form, which helped to communicate the ideas behind the mark in an unmuddled way.
The final mark was refined to meet New City Church’s goals.
The gateway is a distinctive mark, especially among church logos. Most church logos using architectural forms reference their own building. Instead, New City’s gateway mark is inspired by the local “Second Empire” and “Craftsman” architecture styles of Irvington.
The city gateway is designed with a minimal form, making it easily recognizable and leaving room for the church itself to communicate its full culture, rather than leaning too heavily on branded materials.
It is masculine as a traditional gathering place for a city’s leaders, and a key point for defense against attackers. It is an immovable structure, yet its purpose is not primarily to keep out, but to let in, and offer protection.
The city gateway is also an honest, accessible, and authentic solution. It’s the place where the curious see in, and can access the city if they are intrigued by what they see.
The gateway resembles a lower-case “N”, acting as both a logo mark and a monogram.
Finally, the gateway represents the tomb of Christ—with no stone over the entrance, referencing Jesus as the Risen Lord.
The lettering complements the logo, and draws from the bold simplicity found in the near-east side’s painted sign lettering, while walking the line between common and sophisticated, just as New CIty’s culture does. It was made with a modified form of the Calluna Sans typeface. Calluna Sans and it’s serifed counterpart, Calluna, were also selected as the choice fonts for all New City Church materials.