Coincidentally devising the campaign’s digital deliverables while building the network of small businesses in East NY who could play an active role in a budding merchant alliance, we decided to launch quickly the print campaign on the neighborhood’s streets. Leveraging wheat-pasting tactics of guerrilla style campaigns, we based the posters and flyers on the direct participation of small businesses as key community figures. Their photo portraits would generate a genuine and spontaneous “face” to a group often not identified as such. And the motto “We Mean Business” along with their respective quotes (Some in English, others in Spanish) aimed to crystallize their voice in the future of East NY.
“The project brand is black and white as a welcome contrast to the over-stimulating streetscape of ENY, which is hyper-colorful, vibrant, and overwhelming. The rough paint strokes are a nod to the DIY essence of any small business owner operation, and the simplified color palette has a no-nonsense personality which offers stronger impact,” as designers Sarah Nelson Jackson and Jonathan Jackson put it.
The project mission which is included in all our communications materials states: “ENY, We Mean Business, Unite to Stay” is an advocacy campaign that aims to enhance small businesses’ awareness of current changes in the neighborhood in face of rezoning measures and rapidly changing demographics; fast-track access to existing business development services offered by local nonprofits, and eventually empower owners to unite as a merchant alliance.
Spreading the motto and campaign amongst our main partners and collaborators took some time, and still could use even more visibility on the East NY streetscapes. At first the Coalition thought we were potentially competing with their own effort to capture the spirit of their place and the moment of mobilization they were trying to build, which they pinned ONE. But LDCENY leveraged their role within the Coalition and with a good understanding of what design could do, convinced the Coalition to endorse our motto/campaign. As it was the case with Design/Relief, our work has very much been about bridging organizations and people through design.