Branding the Best of Old and New

Preserving history. Creating stories.

Down by the Brooklyn Bridge is the oldest waterfront neighborhood in New York City — the historic seaport district. Since the early days of New York, the district’s vibrant streets, restaurants and bars have been places for stories you won’t believe and stories yet to come.

Then October 2012 happened. The district was devastated by superstorm Sandy and many local businesses lost everything. Everything except their passion for the old neighborhood. They stood their ground, and a year later most are ready to reopen better and stronger than before.

In April 2013, MBLM joined a small business alliance to help spearhead the district’s revival. Over two days, the agency’s team and merchants worked together to find ways to put the district back on the map. But they quickly realized it was about more than that. The 12-block district was at risk of losing not only its vitality and commerce, but its identity as well. The image of an authentic and thriving NYC district had been replaced by pictures of devastation and hopelessness. So the team defined their goal: brand to preserve. A rallying cry to retain the district’s character as much as bring people back.

Over the course of three months, MBLM created a name and refreshed identity for the district: Old Seaport New York. The new name captures the essence of what makes the district unique — one of NYC’s most historically preserved neighborhoods, where history playfully coexists with the city’s constantly evolving future.


The logo design was inspired by window signage from the district in the 1850s. A classic and timeless taste of Americana with a freshness for today emphasized through modular messages as part of the logo. The bright color palette represents the ‘new’ contrasting with the ‘old’ through halftone highlights over iconic photography, also reinforcing the diversity and vitality of the district.

The identity is at the heart of an activation campaign that juxtaposes the district’s name and words expressing the range of experiences that make a visit to the Old Seaport always New. A place for many more stories to be lived, shared and told. Experience it for yourself.

About MBLM

MBLM is an international, multidisciplinary agency that is focused on brand building and activation, software solutions, thought leadership and content. Just launched: MBLM’s Brand Intimacy Study.

If you enjoyed this article you might also like to read this post about rebranding a South Street Seaport restaurantpost-Sandy.