Sharjah gets a new identity
Posted on 2024 Feb,25  | By ArabAd's staff

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Pentagram partner Samar Maakaroun (while operating as Right to Left studio) was invited to rebrand the Emirate of Sharjah. She and her team developed the strategy, positioning and brand identity for one of the seven United Arab Emirates.

The new identity embraced a friendly tone, playfully emphasising Sharjah’s openness, its rich heritage, its lively arts scene, industrious and enterprising nature, and its vibrant culture.

As a nod to Sharjah’s own past, the slogan was taken from the much-loved 1970s sign ‘Smile, you’re in Sharjah’ that greeted motorists as they entered the city. 

The accompanying graphic language takes the arch as its starting point: emblematic of the city’s architecture, the arch is also a symbol of structural integrity. The elegantly rounded motif replaces the two lowercase ‘a’s, introducing an element of transitions and passageways, that in turn embodies the ideas of transformation, progress, and journeys through Sharjah. 

Strategic research investigating Sharjah’s possible colour in comparison to the other 6 sister emirates brought the team to a vibrant orange as the primary brand colour, but paired with a set of softer, earthier and more understated secondary colours. 

The wordmark was designed to work equally well across English and Arabic, with particular attention paid to harmony when the two wordmarks appeared together. While the arch replaced the lowercase a in English, in the Arabic one, it stood in for the final ‘tah marbouta’. In each language, the arch occupied its own ideal place, creating two harmonious wordmarks that rhyme rather than repeat. The two wordmarks bear the same DNA, the same size, the same effect, and ultimately the same face, regardless of the language.

Also, an Arabic Type was commissioned to develop a typeface in three weights based on the brand marque, with the alternate version of the typeface replacing the lowercase “a” with the arch.

As a whole, the identity allowed Sharjah to lay claim to a range of visual and emotional lodestones, primarily the colour orange, the arch as a doorway to discovery, and an open, friendly and welcoming attitude.