Making our Mark in Downtown Pittsburgh

Shift CollaborativeBranding, Design, Events, Non-Profit Organizations

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s annual meeting at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Throughout the evening, I loved seeing all the great work the PDP presented to board members, City and County officials, and to Downtown Pittsburgh stakeholders. I’m very much inspired by the great work the PDP does for Downtown Pittsburgh, improving the city we live and work in.

Even better, we get to work with them on many projects. And I also loved seeing all the pieces of design work that the Shift team did for the PDP in the last year. Here are some highlights:


Branding the debut of Picklesburgh – a weekend-long festival celebrating pickles and pickling, which took place on a bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh. The challenge was to develop a brand identity for a new event that had previously had no visibility in the marketplace. Our other challenge was to manage the expectations of the client who needed a compelling brand to find support, raise money and execute an event of that size and magnitude.

It was difficult to tell the whole story of the event with one logo, so we presented a brand that is expansive with different pieces, elements and colors that represent “pickling.” When one thinks of “pickling” they usually think of pickles. But, what the PDP challenged us to do was to look at the vast array of all things pickled, including Asian fare and Eastern European food.

We also needed to illustrate a 30-foot pickle balloon that would be installed over the Rachel Carson Bridge. Aside from the design work, we also helped with fundraising development and built the event website.

The result is a fun brand that ended up gaining a lot of exposure, with lots of local press plus national attention on Good Morning America and The Today Show




The PDP approached us with a concept for a new street activation program funded by BNY Mellon. They came to us with a blank slate and allowed us the freedom to be our creative selves to name and brand the intuitive. The idea was that these funded projects would test out their ideas in a downtown space, completing two goals: one, to fund an innovative project, and two, to activate an unlikely downtown space to attract people to.

The name we came up with was Betaburgh, Come Test With Us. The brand followed similar lines of thinking. The logo depicts beta as a button, which will be pushed to “activate” downtown. The gradient color chosen has an electric and energizing tone, to represent the creative ideas that ensue. 



Clean Team Trash Can Re-design

The PDP Clean Team made a transition in 2015 and needed a new look for the trash cans they wheel around downtown. Not only does the Clean Team keep the city clean, they also help downtown visitors navigate around, by answering questions and offering help. The idea was to depict their efforts through a new trash can design.

This was an interesting request, to design a 3D object with extra meaning, a trash can, that would be prominently displayed around the streets of Pittsburgh. We pitched a few different ideas, and the one that resonated the most was simply ‘Here to Help,’ accompanied by custom iconographic pattern.

I brainstormed all the different things downtown offers and came up with icons to match them. I chose a muted yellow tone that made the design work seamlessly with the yellow trash cans. How could you miss these bright trashcans rolling around the streets? That is the point.

Yellow Artwork 2-edit    Trash Can on Street


Shop & Dine Guide

This project began during the 2015 holiday season, when the PDP came to us for a unique piece to hand out to guests during Light Up Night and Holiday Market events. The piece was to encourage people to shop downtown for the holidays and to highlight retail centers as well as the Peoples Gas Holiday Market™.

We delivered a piece with a special fold and iconic look. Twenty thousand of these guides were handed out over the holiday season. This piece such a success that the PDP asked us to revise it to use year round, and to also include restaurants.

It was a challenge to fit all 300+ retailers and restaurants on a handheld map. Through many versions, we arrived at a color-coded system that provides the viewer with easy navigation, breaking up downtown into districts and corridors. The cover art was revised to incorporate the colors used throughout and iconically show shopping and dining, making this a full guide for Downtown Pittsburgh. Another 20,000 were printed, and the new Shop and Dine guide made its debut during the PDP Annual Meeting. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 9.10.22 AM

Annual Report & Meeting Collateral

In January we took on the job of creating the PDP’s 2015 Annual Report. We turned their successes and goals into a visually pleasing print piece. We designed a logo, colors, and grid, and matched them with a clean font, and applied it all throughout the 24-page report. I adjusted the size a bit from previous years’ reports, from a typical 8.5 x 11 to a more hand-able 7.5 x 10.5 size, with an additional flap on the front cover to highlight quick facts from 2015. Overall, the design of this year’s report aligns with the innovation the PDP has led in 2015. 

We had our hands full designing not only the annual report, but also all the collateral for the Annual Meeting itself, the invitations, program, and event signage. 

PDP AR Blog image

Throughout the last year it’s been great to help expand the PDP’s brand through these design pieces. We are looking forward to future collaborations, and most importantly Picklesburgh 2016.