Project Background

The Smart Communities Initiative (SCI) is part of a national network of programs of its type, all founded upon the idea that universities and communities should work together to improve the health and vitality of their surrounding areas. The Southeast Tennessee Development District (SETDD), was the University of Tennessee’s SCI community focus for 2015—2016. The SETDD is a unit of the government that works on behalf of local governments to provide planning and human resources in three main ways to the Southeast Tennessee region: 1) Community & Economic Development; 2) Aging & Disability Programs; and 3) Career and Workforce Development. Our goal was to rebrand the organization whose image was fragmented and confusing.

Brand Team

This Branding project was a one-semester intensive project at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville developed in collaboration with Senior Graphic Design students. Not pictured here are Ben Maxey, Tom Foltz, and Heather McNamara who collaborated with us on the video production.

Vision and Promise

Months of analyzing materials and interviewing employees, key personnel and clients, led us to reposition them as “The source for care and reform in the Southeast Tennessee Region.” Their vision became, “To bring the community’s unemployment rate to .5% per capita, raise incomes to $55,000, maintain average ACTscores of 24 in every county and bring broadband access to every neighborhood.” While their promise became, “To always listen to citizen needs and develop the smartest plan possible to help meet their individual goals by resourcing government programs, funding and services.”

This project was presented at CAA and the Design Principles and Practices Conferences. For a copy of the full presentation, feel free to contact me.

  • The SETD Team :

  • Brand Strategy :
    People who knew them, from Government officials to Hospital Administrators admired and respected them. Their name, while awkward, was recognized and trusted. So after days of name brainstorming, we decided to simplify it and drop one of their D’s. In SETD, the “D” stands for District. It’s to the point, and based on how we break it up with color, makes it more like a word than an acronym. It’s easier to say, and only uses 2 syllables. It makes us think of “Ready, Set, Go!”, which is upbeat, forward moving and encapsulates their personality. We also began to simplify their three areas of expertise.

  • Naming System :
    Now a singular name could become a system. SETWORKS is subdivision of SETD. It’s specific mission is to provide citizens with skills for advanced job placement. SETCARES specific mission is to provide aging and disability services for its citizens. SETBUILDS specific mission is to partner with local governments to advance the economic development in the region.

  • Identity System :
    We wanted the flexibility to include a mark in the identity system if needed. We liked the visual of a house because it stands for home. Multiply that and it connotes a neighborhood, once again and it implies community; and what SETD is ultimately trying to do is build a thriving and responsible community—almost one home at a time.

  • Business Cards :
    Business cards for the parent organization and for each of the divisions.

  • Stationery :
    Letterhead and envelopes for the parent organization and for each of the divisions.

  • Folders :
    Use of water color connotes the softer side to the organizations personality.

  • Banners and tablecloths :

  • Notepads :
    Notepads make use of icons depicting caring, working and building community can be used by employees and as giveaways.

  • Entranceway Mural :

  • Promotional Video :

  • Website :
    To view go to:

  • Bumper Stickers :
    Bumper stickers are an inexpensive way to get the word across the state about SETD. These make use of our UVP, “People-Centered Progress” and possible tagline “Panoramic Progress.”

  • Promotional and Volunteer Materials :

  • Event Lanyards :