New & Seasoned: Branding Senior Living Communities

New & Seasoned: Branding Senior Living Communities

Part 1: The James—By Lesli Knee

I always jump at the chance to work on a branding project for a brand-new senior living community. Of course, the logos, colors, and designs are all part of the excitement. But the real opportunity is creating a unique story from a white canvas. Adding in a splash of color here and some brushstrokes there, and ultimately, you’ve created a brand identity that will resonate with those who will eventually call the community home. 

This blank canvas came to us in the form of a brand-new senior living community in Irvine, California. Yet to undergo any construction, our task was to create a unique identity capturing the future lifestyle and embodying the personality of its soon-to-be residentsbefore even a single brick had been laid. 

This meant we had our work cut out for us, but we excitedly picked up our brushes and got to it.

Branding a New Senior Living Community—The BackStory

South Bay Partners and West Bay Senior Living Exterior Rendering of the Buildingcame to Angell Marketing with plans for a modern and upscale senior living community located in Irvine, California. The community developers saw a need to provide seniors with a retirement lifestyle that matched their current way of living. As one of the partners is a leader in the hotel industry, the design has a modern and upscale feel that can be found in hotel designs. 

Though, unlike a hotel, this community aims to build a lifestyle rooted in Interior Renderings of the Buildingconnection and inspiring opportunities for its senior residents. The developers understand that seniors need a new kind of senior living opportunity that embraces their desire to stay active and to remain a part of the greater community.

Because of this, the community will be located within walking distance of a shopping area that includes restaurants, shops, a movie theatre, and other nightlife opportunities. This allows for a natural continuation of their previously active lifestyle. Residents will be able to stay engaged with their favorite local amenities while also taking part in the many services and amenities offered within the community. 

Our goal was to take the lifestyle and active, invigorating spirit and bring it to life. The community would need:

  • A name that reflects the future lifestyle
  • A logo that embraces its part in the greater community and complements the upscale interiors and exteriors of the building
  • Names and logos for the restaurants  
  • Colors & brand standards

The process

While we wanted to jump in right away with the exciting creative pieces, we had to rein ourselves in. Every successful branding project first starts with research. Research of the community, the location, the history, even details like the types of trees native to the area. 

We applied everything we learned during the discovery process to every aspect of the branding project. Our writer compiled a list of dozens of names for both the community name and interior restaurant names to ensure we exhausted all of our options and chose just the right ones. 


It was important to our team that the community name had meaning and cohesively fit with its surroundings. We wanted the name to tell a story to future residents who ask, “Why should I move here? What’s special about this community?” In addition, the name needed to fit the designs and plans already in place for the interiors and exteriors of the building. A modern building needed a modern name.

So we gave it one: The James.

The James doesn’t just match the contemporary aspects of the new community. It derives from the history of the city, which was named after its founder, James Irvine. Influenced by its connection to the city, prospective residents are shown that although the building may be brand-new, a celebration of history and the greater community will be features of the invigorating lifestyle offered. 


The logo creation developed in a similar fashion as the name. First, lots and lots of research. Second, lots of logo designs. Initially, our designer hand-drew around 35 original logos to test out the different styles, strokes, and typography. We took our time experimenting with and testing out the different logo designs to decide which felt right.

Did we want a logo with some flair, with cubic futuristic shape, or perhaps modern simplicity? 

After several different kinds of branding projects over the years, I’ve learned one important thing. Never rush the process. It’s important to take your time to feel out which is best. Our team hung up all 35 hand-drawn designs in our office. We walked by them several times a day and slowly removed the designs that didn’t work. 

Hand-drawn logos of The James

What was left was a design that encapsulated not only the simplistic, The James Logomodern look we were wanting but also embraced the physical location. The logo contains a modern, deconstructed citrus that is natural to the area—another way of celebrating the community and fitting into its surroundings.

Wrapping up the branding

Next up came the colors, typography, and brand standards that will guide the branding in the development of the community. The colors were chosen as a complement to the interior and exterior designs of the building as well as the developed logos. The typography is clean and simple to match. 


The James brand encapsulates the key elements of the community it plans to be a part of. The history of the city, the fruit grown in the region, and perhaps most importantly, the youthful, modern residents that will someday move in.

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