How do you retain the best of a brand's heritage while making something new? Californian design studio BLVR explains how they went about it in one of their most personal projects to date.
It's a common challenge when embarking on redesigning a much-loved brand. On the one hand, you want to do some new, fresh and exciting. On the other hand, you don't want to jettison all the brand value they've built up over the years and risk upsetting a loyal customer base.
As with much in life, it's all about striking the right balance. And that's just what creative and brand consultancy BLVR have succeeded in doing with their rebrand of Californian theme park Belmont Park.
Located in the Mission Beach area of San Diego, the ocean-front amusement park was first opened in 1925 after being developed by sugar magnate John D. Spreckels. Dominated by its historic wooden 'Giant Dipper' roller coaster and boasting a large indoor swimming pool; it continues to attract millions to this day. It also boasts a variety of more modern attractions, including a 3-level Sky Ropes obstacle course, a 7D Theater, and a three-level Tron-themed laser tag arena.
Ahead of its 100th anniversary in 2025, Belmont Park appointed belief-led brand innovation company BLVR to help provide a clear and consistent direction for its future, differentiating it from other amusement parks on the West Coast and nationally.
"We felt the essence of Belmont Park had been missing from our brand identity for a number of years," says Steve Thomas, General Manager of Belmont Park. "There's so much here that enables us to be a pillar of the community in San Diego for tourists and locals alike – from the entertainment of the rides to the tasty food to the beachfront location. Yet we felt we were being overlooked. We wanted our new identity to help us create that connection with people so that everyone feels welcome."
Another part of the challenge was the lack of consistency across the park. "There was no strong brand presence," says Blair. "The best thing about Belmont Park is that there's something for everyone, but each vendor had its own look and feel; there was no sense of unity between them. We knew that to elevate the customer experience, we had to bring everything together so that it felt cohesive while still leaving enough room for each ride and vendor to have its own personality."
To meet this challenge and ensure the new identity felt as authentic as possible, BLVR worked with Belmont Park's internal stakeholders to uncover the brand's core conviction – a firm belief that San Diego's culture is unique, extraordinary, and deserves to be shared. This conviction is at the heart of the strategic approach to the brief.
"What really shone through is how Belmont Park is ideally positioned to embody San Diego through memorable, exciting, and quintessential California experiences," says Alex Blair, Group Strategy Director at BLVR. "Nowhere else can compete with that. Using this lens, we wanted to create a fresh and modern brand that leaned into the emotional connection between the park and its visitors."
The new solution leverages the attraction's rich history but for a modern audience, zoning in on its local charm to celebrate everything that's unique and extraordinary about San Diego. Radiating the warmth of the sunshine state and its free-spirited sense of adventure, the designs aim to evoke an infectious playfulness, differentiating the theme park from national competitors.
Articulating Belmont Park's core conviction also provided the unity and consistency that had previously been missing from the brand and informed every part of the visual identity.
At the heart of the new identity sits a new logo. Combining all the key elements of the park – the Giant Dipper, the beachfront, and the San Diego sun – in a rounded arch, it's an effective shorthand for everything the attraction has to offer.
The logo's artful simplicity also helps to provide that previously-missing consistency to the brand. It's a useful approach for an identity that has to live in so many places, from large-scale posters to signage, to a tiny T-shirt badge.
The wider visual language derives from the logo. Key elements include a suite of shapes to crop photography and form decorative patterns, plus a Giant Dipper graphic that can be used to frame various content styles. Each enables the identity to flex depending on need and application while building a distinctive and recognisable brand.
The visual execution was further inspired by the graphic language of the seventies, striking a balance between nostalgia and modernisation. For example, the bespoke wordmark features chunky curves reminiscent of that era.
"This, alongside the logo, laid the foundations for the rebrand's nostalgic visuals," explains Austin Lane, executive creative director at BLVR. "However, rather than fully replicating the style in what could quickly become pastiche, it borrows just the right amount. For example, we've injected small moments of playfulness – in the connection between the 'L' and the 'M' and on the kick of the 'R'. This keeps it clean, making it a fresher take on the past."
The colour palette further adds to the sense of cohesion, signalling the warmth and optimism of the San Diego culture and enhancing the notion of Belmont Park as a cultural gateway to the city. Inspired by the vibrant hues of the park and the surrounding natural landscape, it features shades drawn from the sand, sun, sky, and water (navy, cream, aqua, yellow and coral).
Alongside the visual identity, BLVR worked with Belmont Park to develop an ownable tone of voice. Like the rest of the rebrand, it sought to highlight the energy of San Diego; laid back, leisurely, yet adventurous.
This provides a clear point of difference from the larger, more corporate style of Belmont Park's competitors. Playful messages include 'Ride. Eat. Shop. Surf. Repeat' and 'supplying good vibes since 1925'.
Situated just 20 minutes from the BLVR offices on Solana Beach, the project felt particularly personal to the BLVR team. "The opportunity to define Belmont Park's future was exciting for us," recalls Blair. "It holds many personal memories for everyone, whether it's where you spent your summer holidays as a child, experienced your first taste of independence, or had your first kiss.
"That sense of connection and nostalgia was exactly what we wanted to tap into. People often yearn for the simple times before we were so locked into our phones and the digital world. We wanted to use this rebrand to say, 'You can have these times back.'"
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