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Grand Forks Public


Your strength is getting us to put our dreams for our library and the community into words. And to really think about things we haven’t been thinking about much. You helped us clarify things and set a clear direction.

Wendy Wendt, Director, Grand Forks Public



Before: This library, like all public libraries, was struggling to overcome persistent negative stereotypes about what libraries do and who they serve. The “library brand”—with associations like “just books” and “late fees” and “shhhhh”—prevented the library from even getting on the mental map for many prospective attendees, let alone becoming the vibrant community hub that it would like to be.

After: The new name and tagline “A playground for curious minds” combined with a new visual system forced reconciliation with the future of small town libraries needing to serve as a community hub and relevant destination for an array of activities.


We removed the word “library” entirely and replaced it with an underscore that can be replaced by a number of alternatives: In our new scheme, a library is just one of the roles this institution will play in the future. This identity embodies our strategy and forces a dramatic organizational evolution.


Discovery: Brand Pyramid

Our discovery work served to define their organizational ambition, focusing their attention on how they could better serve Grand Forks as a “place for innovation, inspiration, and creativity.” As their new Brand Idea, they landed on “Adventure,” which directly challenged any staid conception of libraries. Building on this, we asked them to set an aspirational goal. They chose “To become known as one of the most innovative small city public libraries in the country.” This laid the foundation for them to select the most ambitious identity direction we proposed.

5. Brand Idea

4. Core Values

  • Kind
  • Innovative
  • Fun

3. Why? (Emotional & practical drivers)

Why come?

  • Hopes for my children’s success
  • Boredom
  • Be perceived as smart/intellectual
  • I need X (a book, video, etc.)
  • I need a place to relax with no pressure
  • I want to learn something
  • I need to occupy my kids (outlet)
  • Loneliness (I want someone to talk to)
  • I have positive memories from childhood
  • Sustainability
  • Sharing things/not isolating yourself
  • Feel a sense of community/belonging

Why support?

  • Pride in the community
  • Empathy/altruism (access to resources for those who can’t afford them)
  • Civic responsibility/the public good
  • Support freedom of speech
  • Belief in lifelong learning

2. How does Grand Forks Public deliver its benefits?

  • Personalized, friendly assistance
  • Meaningful social experience
  • Special offerings and limited-time events

1. What is Grand Forks Public?
Not what you think. It’s your place for innovation, inspiration, and creativity.


Be prepared to be shaken up.

Wendy Wendt, Director, Grand Forks Public


  • New organizational goals
  • New Core Values
  • Staff training to align with Core Values
  • Board training and community outreach
  • New name
  • New visual identity system
  • New tagline
  • New brand advertising campaign
  • New website

Concept signage for library

  • Staff changes to put energy behind the brand
  • Physical makeover of the building

Tronvig Credits: Sarah Ahrens & Smidge Design Studio, Art Directors and James Heaton, Creative Director

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