Branding, Cases, Design, Logos


Project details

City of Gaithersburg, MD

Public Information Office

Graphic Designer

Samantha Sekellick


Branding, Cases, Design, Logos

The Client

Located in the geographic center of Montgomery County, Maryland, Gaithersburg residents enjoy an exceptional quality of life. They are home to award-winning neighborhoods, and their county school system ranks among the best in the country.

Gaithersburg residents enjoy the best of both worlds – the familiarity and comfort of a small-town community within the exciting metropolitan area of the nation’s capital.

Gaithersburg is the most diverse small City in America.

The Challenge

We needed to encourage our diverse residents to complete the Census spite a very politicized environment. Immigrant communities were concerned that giving personal information would put them in danger. The US government brand was compromised and had acquired a “bad reputation.”  The recommendation from local outreach groups was to move away as far as possible from the official Census Bureau visuals and create our own branding. In this way, we could build trust among our residents and communicate the importance and positive local repercussions of participating in the Census.

The Solution

We created an integrated communications campaign in English and Spanish, with graphic pieces representing Gaithersburg’s diversity.

I designed a logo representing the campaign’s spirit, consisting of three circles that faded into the “i” of the “I count” slogan, and used it as an umbrella to brand all graphic pieces. To complement the message, we modified the phrase “We are Gaithersburg” to “I am Gaithersburg.”

We asked our photographer to take pictures of Gaithersburg’s residents at the labor day parade while pointing up their fingers. Then, we used those images, added the “I’m Gaithersburg. I count” logo, and published them on social media.

I designed banners that showed images referencing our target audience, and then we contacted residents active in the Community and took pictures of them to add to the banners. I created a style guide to help the models and direct the photographer. I also suggested the images be taken on a white background rather than a green screen to facilitate editing. Although a green screen might sound like a good option, it’s difficult to light correctly so that the subjects don’t get a green overcast.

We used these photos on our graphic pieces, including a magazine spread published at “inGaithersburg.”

The team took videos of our residents pointing up their fingers and inserted the catchphrase in post-production. The videos were shared on social media and on digital signage in City facilities.

At this time, we had planned for several activations. Drawing from my experience scripting happenings and internal communications campaigns, I proposed we visit City facilities with all our mascots wearing our branded t-shirts while taking pictures and encouraging employees to take the Census. We also planned to give out tattoos and stickers at several events and use selfie props. However, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, all these were canceled.


The 2020 census count concluded at 6 a.m. on Friday, October 16, 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 99.9% of all U.S. households were enumerated, which means they either self-responded by mail, phone, or online or were counted by other means, such as door knocking or through the use of administrative records.

The self-response rate is a barometer of the City’s efforts to encourage its residents to take action. With much confusion swirling around the Census due to shifting end dates and with plans to promote the Census having to change drastically due to the Pandemic, it is more impressive than ever that nearly three-quarters of Gaithersburg’s households answered the call.

Self-Response Rates

Gaithersburg – 72.3%
Montgomery County – 77.8%
Maryland – 71.0%
U.S. – 66.8%

Team of the Quarter

Although the Pandemic halted some of our plans, we pushed the campaign by switching to primarily digital mediums. Our efforts were recognized by the City, which nominated our Census Committee as the team of the quarter.

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