“It was a huge honor and privilege to work on a brand refresh and web redesign for such an iconic San Francisco institution.” —Joshua Chen, Principal & Creative Director, Chen Design Associates
San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square, visited by 12.4 million tourists every year, has just unveiled a website by Chen Design Associates [CDA] worthy of its national historic landmark status. The global attraction is home to the eponymous chocolate company’s U.S. flagship store and boasts unique local shops, restaurants and a distinctive property by the Fairmont Hotel.
Atlanta-based Jamestown Properties purchased the 99,551 square foot retail complex last September and engaged CDA to overhaul Ghirardelli Square’s website in Jamestown’s plan to bring the historically significant complex to greater potential for neighbors and vacationers alike.
Key features of CDA’s redesign of Ghirardelli Square’s website include:
- Easy navigation, high interactivity. Rollover images, text and icons offer multiple channels to getting the information viewers are seeking like current events, press, Instagram and Twitter feeds.
- Brand identity aligns with Ghirardelli’s iconic signage. Elements of the actual place like the lights, historical maps, and typography echo throughout the site’s design, tying back to the real destination.
- Empowered way-finding. The online map is interactive and changes in color when the viewer rolls over various spaces linking to helpful information about the store or leasing contact information.
- The new site functions beautifully on all devices, of course.
The Ghirardelli Square Brand — Before
Over the years, Ghirardelli Square had been represented by no less than five different logos and brand expressions on site, in various collateral, signage and its website. The latest large-scale rebrand iteration was a script logo that evoked a spa getaway — certainly a beautiful idea but not accurate to the Ghirardelli brand or the unique experience near Fisherman’s Wharf.
Brand Refresh — After
The new brand expression developed by CDA is rooted in history while at the same time relevant and contemporary for today’s visitors.
“We brought back the authenticity of the place, with the logo based on the original rooftop signage which still stands today and that everyone recognizes as part of the landscape and representative of the Square. While on one hand it seemed to be something of a ‘no-brainer, of course we’d do that’ — refining the letterforms and paying attention to the details of each letter and its relationship within the word itself, further updating it for a new generation was something we relished and took joy in crafting.” — Joshua Chen
There are a total of 12 buildings on the site, built over a 100-year period beginning in 1864, with seismic retrofitting and updates in 1966 and in 2009. Jamestown is renovating Ghirardelli Square, adding new retail concepts and amenities aimed at distinguishing this world-renowned landmark as both a neighborhood and vacation destination.
“We are planning to improve the property and hopefully return the asset to what it was once known for. It does have a national and internationally following,” said Michael Phillips, chief operating officer for Jamestown.
“I think that it’s great for the city of San Francisco that the property was acquired by a company like Jamestown. They know retail very well and are a hands on company, which will be good for the future of the property,” says Kazuko Morgan, a vice chairman with Cushman & Wakefield’s retail services group in its San Francisco office. Jamestown has partnered with CDA on websites and environmental graphics for three others of its California commercial real estate collections.
No doubt that in today’s marketplace, a strategically-designed, world-class website and identity — authentic to who the company is, engaging, informative and easy to navigate on any device — is an indispensable tool in getting those real visitors actually there.