Two Rivers is a beautiful place located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Because of its location, it is historically a fishing community, but it’s also the birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae and became a factory town when the J.E. Hamilton Holly Wood Type Company was founded in 1880. Within 20 years, Hamilton became the largest manufacturer of wood type in the United States — responsible for printed type that appeared in newspapers, posters and advertising across the country.
In the past, large companies were fully vested in their town. They were locally owned, employed much of the population and reinvested in their community. The town and the factory were inseparable.
Fast forward to today — the factory has closed. Some residents believe they will never thrive until another large employer comes to town. However, when you look closely you’ll see many are still optimistic. They are rolling up their sleeves and aren’t waiting around for an outsider to come in and bail them out. Instead, they are rediscovering the community’s entrepreneurial spirit and reshaping the future of Two Rivers.
Our agency is founded on the famous Jane Jacobs quote that says, “Cities can provide something for everyone, only because, and only when they are created by everyone.” This means every project starts with engagement.
Over the course of one year, we deeply engaged Two Rivers residents and stakeholders through numerous focus groups, roundtables, 1-on-1 interviews, public meetings, online surveys and tours of the community. We met with various interest groups including students, retailers, arts groups, large employers, business owners, real estate agents and residents. We even collaborated with the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum to create custom letterpress posters advertising a public meeting.
While everyone has different backgrounds and goals for their community when you really listen you start to identify the common threads. These common threads become the brand principles that set the stage for the story the brand will tell. We started to recognize themes of timelessness, creativity and entrepreneurship, and comfort.
These brand principles show that the town wasn’t dying, and that it didn’t need some big industry to come and rescue it. Instead, the community could remain true to its past while reinventing its future. It became clear that the brand’s story was all about being timeless & true.
Timeless speaks to both old things that last forever but also to new things created in a timeless way. Timeless things are simple, quality, and always in style but never trendy. They favor function over luxury. They have character without being flashy. They are true to their purpose.
The lake and view is always changing — day to day and hour to hour it’s always different. The city is also changing. Two Rivers can embrace and be more comfortable with change because its sense of timelessness allows the community to remember who they are and where they came from. They look to their past for inspiration and guidance, and while the city may change, Two Rivers will remain true to who they are.