Choose Santa Cruz

Rethinking Economic Development

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The Challenge

Our long-term partnership with the Santa Cruz Economic Development Department started when they reached out to us with the goal of creating a new brand identity, website, and user experience designed to engage entrepreneurs and people considering living and working in Santa Cruz.

The Outcome

The Choose Santa Cruz brand and site goes beyond a typical, boring government experience and encourages people to revisit it as an evolving resource. The department is now established as the go-to resource and for business development and learning about infrastructure projects that they lead. A second phase produced a Plan, Permit, Launch, Grow portal that guides entrepreneurs through the steps of starting and expanding a business.


  • Strategic Brand Building
  • Content & Campaign Consulting

Focus Areas

  • Public Service & Government

Our goal was to establish them as the go-to agency and information source for starting and growing businesses, organizations, and infrastructure projects in the city. Most importantly, we strived to create a site that people would revisit, instead of the typical, boring government site.

A New Identity

We wanted to create a completely new experience for interacting with the Economic Development Office, so we knew that we'd need to create a new name and brand identity. We landed on "Choose Santa Cruz" to show that living and working in Santa Cruz is a conscious choice. The logo crest represents Santa Cruz's unique environment between the redwoods and the sea.

A New Identity

Where Work & Culture Converge

Balancing services and functionality with reasons for visitors to return, we approached the website with a highly visual and editorial design direction. We focused on combining practical information with a more narrative and emotional angle to highlight the unique culture that defines Santa Cruz.

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Two Video Series

We produced and directed a 9-part video series paired with long-form articles to tell deeper stories. View the whole In-Depth series on the Choose Santa Cruz site. A second 5-part series, The Sit Down, features one-on-one conversations with iconic local business owners and the Choose Santa Cruz team, as they discuss the lively, supportive and inter-connected business community in Santa Cruz.

In Depth: Stripe Design Group
In Depth: Route 1 Farms
In Depth: Looker

A Resources Toolbox

A major goal of the site was to help make it easy for people to launch and grow businesses in Santa Cruz. We built a free online resources section complete with a comprehensive business roadmap, quick-start guides for specific business types, and free services to help people finance, staff, and improve their business. The Toolbox reinforces Choose Santa Cruz’s commitment to supporting a thriving community.

A Resources Toolbox
A Resources Toolbox 3

A Visual Language

Using Craft CMS and our style guide, the Choose Santa Cruz team can handle visual updates and consistently maintain and scale the site as their brand evolves and new stories are told.

A Visual Language

Santa Cruz on Display

Work & Culture define Santa Cruz. Working with the Choose Santa Cruz team, we shot 3,000+ photos across the entire city to populate the site and create an image library.

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Scope of Work

  • Strategic Brand Building

    • Visual & Messaging Landscape Analysis
    • Brand Identity & Design Systems
    • Brand Messaging
  • Content & Campaign Consulting

    • Brand Extension, Collateral, & Materials
  • Other

    Related Work

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