City of San Francisco

Transforming urban transportation

Their Goliath

Endlessly searching for parking endangers pedestrians and is bad for the environment. Funded by the Federal Department of Transportation, San Francisco tried an experiment to improve things. What if they priced parking based on availability? This might encourage people to park at times and places with more open spots. Smart idea, but only works if drivers change deeply ingrained parking habits.

Our Solution

Expert and consumer interviews provided two insights. First, parking “purchase decisions” repeat daily. Changing the experience at the meter might prove most effective. Second, in San Francisco, the loudest voices often stop the best civic projects.  The trial’s success could depend on limiting complaints as much as increasing parking availability.

What We Did

Brand Strategy
Change Management
Identity Design
Presentation Design
Web Design
Launch Strategy
Campaign Management
Wayfinding Design
Print Advertising
Web Advertising
Outdoor Advertising


San Francisco’s new approach required new technology implemented at six pilot areas across the City: in-ground sensors to monitor availability, smart parking meters, and a complex back-end infrastructure. Together with the ace design team at WPI, we used visual storytelling to make the approach more, well approachable. We were able to get the story down to a 2:50 long video. It was played before each public meeting and placed front-and-center on the project’s website.

Identity Design

We looked at parking signage from across the world and discovered a common theme: a white P in a blue field. We refined the existing orange program identity to align with this more familiar blue. We created a bold, yet simple visual style which was extended to illustrations and icons. We recommended keeping the existing program name, SFpark, as it already had brand recognition among City influencers.

Launch Campaign

Signage Design

After the initial project was complete, the SFMTA brought us back to help simplify more parking signage. We reduced visual and verbal clutter while increasing legibility. Note the change from “FOR TOWED VEHICLES CALL” to simply “TOWED?” as well as the new space given for installation hardware that previously covered important text.


The Results

Since its launch, SFpark has both improved traffic flow in our city and gained significant recognition, serving as an inspiration to municipalities around the world.