Building a solid graphic identity for a post-industrial region at the height of its urban regeneration.

Charleroi Métropole

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The city of Charleroi and its surrounding municipalities are at the heart of an economic transition. Old factories from the second industrial revolution are rapidly being replaced by a fabric of innovative enterprises and urban housing developments.

In a bid to communicate internationally on this process of modernisation — and to attract businesses, tourists, and future inhabitants — the Wallonia region brought together a task-force of specialist consultants and designers.

In synergy with Pam & Jenny (who crafted the Charleroi city logo) and Reed (in charge of institutional communication), we were assigned the challenge of designing a striking visual identity for the freshly christened region: Charleroi Métropole.

The metropolitan area is made up of 29 distinct municipalities, each with their own pre-existing graphic identity and administrative bodies.

We therefore worked towards defining a brand book on a regional and institutional scale. Creating strong guidelines for all to use would then lead to not only a recognisable visual scheme but also to a durable and practical visual toolbox for the region.

In collaboration with Belgian type designer Sebastien Sanfilippo, we created a bespoke typeface with an idiosyncratic visual and graphic twist. Each letter also exists as dropcap: accompanied by the display font these are used on posters, billboards, and overlaid on images for a striking effect.

The traditional approach of choosing a fixed range of colours that expresses a client’s personality simply wasn’t versatile enough for such a complex case. Instead, we designed a colour-picking system that defines a new palette to be used for each graphic adaptation — be it a poster, a booklet, signage, or merchandising.

Thinking ahead, we included numerous different examples of adaptations within the Charleroi Metropole graphic guidelines. These span packaging, publications, flags to business cards. Such meticulously laid-out rules form part of the 100-page style guide, and guarantee a consistent, solid future for the Metropole in terms of visual identity.