W&CO Sends Love Letter To New York
Watson & Company has created the brand experience and brand identity for Moynihan Train Hall — an extension of Penn Station and NYC’s most significant civic infrastructure project in decades — the result of a public-private-partnership led by New York State and managed by Empire State Development (ESD).
W&CO was founded in 2009 as one of the first agencies creating visual identities for hospitality brands rooted in a sense of place — their work with Jeff Koons, Four Seasons, Art Basel and Mandarin Oriental among others, tap into the legacy of each brand’s location, architectural history, and community ties, to create an impactful, timeless identities. Thus the firm was familiar with the challenge of creating a memorable brand identity for a new architectural icon. Rather than view the project as a civic infrastructure challenge, W&CO took direction from ESD in re-imagining the train hall as playing host to NYC’s worldly visitors. Thus, the brand embodies a warm, welcoming, and uplifting gateway.
W&CO leaned into The James A. Farley Post Office building’s 100+ year existence to ground their campaign in the sense of place and history around the building. The concept that underpinned the brand was A Love Letter to New York. W&CO further teased out the concept of embodying New York’s past, present, and future in Moynihan Train Hall’s brand messaging. The voice: an intelligent and contemporary New Yorker speaking to the city with self-awareness, honesty, humor, and wit.
ESD enlisted W&CO to create an identity as iconic and impactful as the original Penn Station itself. In working on a comprehensive suite of touchpoints from the brand’s incorporation into the building itself, to the interior and exterior signage, typography, brand marks, logos, and brand colors. From print to digital to onsite application, the brand identity was put into practice in a well-balanced manner serving both to educate railroad commuters and visitors, and familiarize the public with a brand that will be a centerpiece of the city for the future generations.
The primary brandmark — an abstract eagle — was inspired by the meeting points and connection of people around the station, and is a nod to the USPS logo and thus the legacy of the former Farley Post Office building where Moynihan Train Hall now stands. The secondary mark was inspired by the traditional form of the postage stamp — paying homage to the romance of letter-writing and celebrating human connection.
W&CO worked closely with Empire State Development the State of New York, and Vornado Realty Trust to incorporate the branding into the infrastructure of the building itself — including a sophisticated inlaid seal inspired by the history of Farley Post Office, at the bottom of the Moynihan Train Hall’s Grand Staircase, and custom typography by type designer Tobias Frere-Jones etched into the foundation of the building and adorning the front of the station in bronze letters.