TedxRVAWomen Conference

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On December 5, JHI sent Nichole and me to the first TedxRVAWomen Conference, held at Dogtown Dance Theater. I was particularly excited because I had attended TedxRVAGraceStreet in September, and was really impressed by the conversation it generated.

Richmond’s first TedxRVAWomen consisted of 14 speakers of a various ages and disciplines, all women who live, work, and make change in Richmond. Among the topics covered were: motherhood, privilege, body image, finding your place, and connection to others.

The first half of the conference focused on work-life balance, and setting goals. Christy Coleman, president of The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, encouraged us to “design your own scale” when balancing work with family. Artist Colleen Hall gave everyone permission slips to take time for themselves. “In an airplane they instruct you to put on your oxygen mask first, before helping others,” she said.

Sustainability Manager for the City of Richmond, Alicia Zatcoff, and award-winning author Gigi Amateau focused on nature and sustainability in their Ted talks. Gigi inspired us all when she told us what she instructs her 6th grade writing students to do when they are stuck: “I tell them to go to the river…Henry David Thoreau said, ‘All good things are wild and free.’”

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While the first half of the conference focused on finding your passion, the second centered on self-evaluation and realization.
“We all have privilege,” founder of TMI Consulting, Tiffany Jana,
said: “Find your privilege and use it for good.”

Crossfit coach Kara Silva, and makeup artist Eva DeVirgilis spoke about beauty and body image in their Ted Talks. DeVirgilis told us how she uses her role as a makeup artist to help women own their beauty: “I like to think of myself as treading in the deep end of a shallow profession,” she said. Silva spoke to us about stepping outside of your body image and looking at the entire scope of your life: “You cannot define yourself by one wave, you are the whole ocean.”

Two of the most remarkable talks of the day came from the youngest speakers. First was 17-year-old Samantha Marquez, an already accomplished scientist (7 patents!), with some remarkable insights on the scientific field. She talked about the need to encourage women to pursue jobs in science: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring your own chair.” Another young speaker, VCU student Carmen Jones, blew us away with her beautiful and brave monologue: “I am Carmen Jones, and I love myself.”

I wish that I could write about every one of these engaging speakers and encourage anyone who was unable to attend to watch the videos online when they become available next month.

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At JHI we are excited to work with innovative and engaged people in our city, and the TedxRVA talks are a testament to this movement. I hope you join us at the next Tedx RVA Conference coming in March of 2014. Find out more information about: TEDTEDxTedxRVA.

Building On History: Revitalizing An Established Brand

HistoricRichmond_Identity_ brand


When the Historic Richmond Foundation asked us to update their 78 year old brand, we were honored. This organization plays a key role in protecting and promoting the distinctive and historic built environment that gives Richmond its authentic sense of place. This is a very forward thinking group of people, who are not just dedicated to preserving important architectural assets from the past, but also to supporting the reuse of existing stock, the revitalization of old neighborhoods, and the construction of visionary new buildings that will inform Richmond’s architectural legacy for generations to come. They are advocates who are helping to shape Richmond’s future by protecting and promoting historic buildings and places that make the city unique, beautiful and authentic. Including J H I’s own mid-century building on historic Monument Avenue.

Unfortunately, perceptions of the Historic Richmond Foundation seemed to be stuck in the distant past. The existing logo reinforced the dusty image of the organization as solely focused on traditional, 18th and 19th century buildings. The word “Foundation” caused confusion and didn’t reflect the very active engagement of staff and volunteers in current issues and decisions immediately affecting Richmond’s diverse street scapes and neighborhoods. Bottom line: a lot of local folks don’t realize how relevant the work of the organization is to making Richmond a wonderful city to live in, work in and visit: today and tomorrow. The brand needed revitalization.

HRF_BeforeAfter-01 brand


Working closely with the Board, Staff and key stakeholders, J H I recommended dropping “Foundation” from the organization’s name. Mission and vision statements were updated to more accurately reflect its true passions and purpose. The identity was redesigned and modernized to reflect Historic Richmond’s dedication to both the past and the future, with a tagline that reflects the core purpose of the organization.

A new website is currently under construction with our partners Release The Hounds, and new communications materials will trumpet the updated brand message.  Meanwhile, next time you go to hear a favorite band at The National, remember that Historic Richmond saved that structure and made it possible for you to be there, now. And in the future.

Welcome Nichole!

J H I is pleased to announce that Nichole Heisler has joined our team as a graphic designer. Born and raised in Ohio, Nichole moved to Richmond after graduating in May 2013 from Bowling Green State University. She spent several weeks at J H I this summer in a temporary position, where she sailed above and beyond our expectations with her impressive design skills and contagiously enthusiastic personality. Needless to say we were sorry to see her go, and jumped at the chance to bring her back on board as a full time team member.We are delighted to officially welcome Nichole to the JHI family!


Some strange things have been happening…


Even a Genius Needs to Advertise



We don’t think too much about our electric grid; it’s always there doing what electric grids do…distributing electricity to you and everyone around you. While we never really stop to consider how it actually works, companies that manage the grid think about it all the time. It’s the key delivery vehicle for their main product: electricity.

Dominion recently upped the game on the grid by developing and introducing EDGE.

Until now, delivery to individual customers on “the grid” has been managed by an algorithm, essentially a computer model constructed at a certain point in time with the known data of the day. It’s a best guess, averaging approach that experts have previously agreed could pretty much do the trick.

Enter EDGE: Energy Distribution and Grid Efficiency, and it’s a whole new world.




Forget models of past performance. With the deployment of smart meters, for the first time there is a conversation happening all across utility grids with electricity customers, everywhere. Individual electric meters are reporting highly accurate data, and EDGE enables utilities to use that data to automatically and adaptively adjust delivery, responding in real time based on real usage, in ways unimaginable before, and in the process saving significant money and resources for all concerned.




Enter J H I with the assignment to create a strategic position and communications messaging for the new global initiative.

We were asked to assist in building a brand, a look, a language and a physical presence for EDGE. Sales tools were required. Diagrams of how the product works were required. A specific sub language of product component icons was required. Trade show booths were required. And now, a web site is under construction.

Dominion’s EDGE product continues to explore the outer edges of large utility grid management, bringing evermore savings and control. J H I continues to explore the world of highly strategic and creative sales and communications strategies for our clients. Welcome to our grid.

The Richmond Folk Feast Identity

This past Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of attending Richmond’s first Folk Feast, where nine of Richmond’s top chefs presented ten signature dishes, to benefit the Richmond Folk Festival.

While there, I was not only impressed by the food, but observed just how beloved the Richmond Folk Festival has become to Richmonders. I talked to people, who regard the Richmond Folk Festival as “their” festival, and look forward to it all year.


When Venture Richmond came to J H I with the pre-Folk Festival food-fundraiser idea, our first task was to name the event. Since the Folk Festival is commonly referred to as the Richmond Folk Fest, the Richmond Folk Feast sounded like a nice complement.

The next step was to create a logo that related to, but would not be confused with, the very recognizable Folk Festival logo, which was originally designed by J H I when the National Folk Festival came to Richmond in 2005.

To create the Folk Feast logo, we started by dissecting and examining the elements of the Folk Festival logo. This led us to the idea of arranging each piece as if it were a bite of food, an amuse-bouche, if you will.


Once the logo was completed, J H I had the pleasure of designing the Folk Feast billfold, poster, pin, and menu. The billfold was the first advertisement of the food-fundraiser, so we “served” the full logo on one side with the backside listing each restaurant, in the same slanted-box style.


For the poster, we expanded our design system to create an environment of slanted blocks, textures, and images that spoke to both the folk and feast aspects of the event.


We designed the Folk Feast pin by developing another iteration of the logo that included “I gave, 2013.” We hope that this will become a souvenir for the Feast every year.


The last piece was the menu, in which we used our system of the slanted type and color blocks in two duotone color schemes. On the backside, as a last homage to our fork idea, each restaurant’s logo is “served” on a fork.


Overall, we wanted the Folk Feast logo, like the Folk Fest logo, to be recognizable and interesting, but also flexible to change over time. Although the Folk Feast logo was used in every marketing application, it took on different characteristics for varying environments, becoming a comprehensive design system.

The Folk Feast sold out in its first year: we hope it will become as anticipated and celebrated as the Folk Festival, and look forward to seeing both events grow over the next ten years!



Feeding The Folk Festival


We love the Richmond Folk Festival, and we love Venture Richmond, the good folks who work so hard to make it happen every year, and we love all the great new eateries popping up around RVA: so you shouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that we loved designing the identity for the new Richmond Folk Feast. We designed the new logo to have a hint of the folk festival flavor while still evoking a new sense of excitement for this culinary event.

Dine and donate: our favorite form of charitable giving. See you there!

Stick with a summer mindset


             Click the images for some RVA summer fun!





Richmond Liberty Trail Design

 Liberty Trail Wayfinding Marker


Have you seen anything new on the sidewalks of Richmond lately? Look down. We mean literally ON the concrete. Winding through the city, there is a new path linking numerous historic sites (including 15 national historic landmarks) brought together by a blue compass marker, which we had the honor of designing for the Richmond Liberty Trail! Together with the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, Richmond Region Tourism and the Valentine Richmond History Center we created this simple mark to be enjoyed by Richmond visitors for years to come. This was a great opportunity to see our work actually painted across the city, enriching Richmond’s tapestry and urban landscape.


Painting the Liberty Trail


The project presented several challenges. Somehow the planners of the trail needed to coordinate the installation of thousands of markers around a 6.2 mile loop of Richmond’s downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. To do this, they organized hundreds of volunteers to paint the markers with stencils. The stencil format allowed eager volunteers to participate in some (city-sanctioned!) graffiti and complete the installation of the trail all in one day. For design, we had to constantly consider the stencil format and create a marker that was bold and clear, but of course still stylish enough for the streets of our beloved RVA. After many icons were reviewed, the image of the compass was the clear choice. The compass icon gives a nod to the nautical history of Richmond, and also indicates to visitors a system of wayfinding, pointing them along to the next historical site.


Liberty Trail in front of the Valentine


The variations in surfaces presented another design challenge. If you are familiar with Richmond, you probably already know that the sidewalks range from freshly poured concrete to century-old herringbone brickwork. In addition to a bold, clear design, we chose the vibrant blue color to contrast against a range of surfaces.


Liberty Trail Tredegar


Next time you are taking a stroll through RVA and happen upon the Liberty Trail, take a few minutes to follow a few of the 1000+ markers…something historical is right around the corner!

Rebranding RMCVB:
New Name, New Look


The value of rebranding is that it can make your key target audiences look at you in a fresh new light, while also reinforcing key brand attributes and strengthening relationships. A new name and new look presents new opportunities to be seen and heard in a new and appealing way.




We have enjoyed working with the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau (RMCVB) for several years, often referring to them (affectionately) as the JHI client with the longest name. That name was a hindrance: it didn’t clearly convey what the organization really does, which is filling hotel rooms by doing a heck of a job selling the Richmond Region as a great tourism and meeting destination. The name didn’t tell the story, or reinforce the economic value delivered, which is millions of dollars spent by visitors to our beautiful Richmond Region.

Recently RMCVB decided to change all that, by changing their name to Richmond Region Tourism. We were thrilled to hear about the change, and even more thrilled when they asked JHI to design a new identity that could be a workhorse for the organization. Several design objectives were set, one of which was geographic (clearly convey that it’s RICHMOND VIRGINIA, versus one of the many other Richmonds that happen to be North America), some of which were aesthetic (modern, clean, fresh) and some of which were purely functional (horizontal and vertical, easy to see large or small, great on the web or on a shirt). RMCVB staff members and a task force comprised of Board members participated in a series of planning meetings to help shape an identity that everyone would be proud to wear. And we are very proud of the result.