Branding Glitter — Your friendly block cleaning service.

Philly has a bit of a reputation for being trashy. Glitter wants to change that.

Smith & Diction
Smith & Diction
Published in
11 min readMar 23
Animation by James Dybvig

Glitter to the rescue.

It’s no secret that Philly has a problem—I mean, we’ve got a ton of problems— but one of the top three has gotta be trash. Philadelphia is straight up trashy. Walk down any street and you’ll prob find some syringes, a doll with its head missing, loose circulars, endless dog poop ranging in size from Chihuahua to small bear, etc. Our bike lanes are basically just made out of glass shards. It’s exhausting, and it definitely feels like one of those things that’s so overwhelming it leaves you feeling hopeless. What’s little ol’ me supposed to do about it?! Well, enter Glitter.

Animation hard at work (by James Dybvig)

Glitter is a block cleaning service that lets you hire someone to clean all the trash off your street on the regular. They let you seamlessly split the weekly cleaning cost with your neighbors, so everyone pitches in just a little, and everyone gets to live on a nice clean block. And you can feel real good about subscribing, because Glitter pays all their cleaners a living wage and they go out of their way to hire folks from unconventional backgrounds—like people who have recently been incarcerated, for example, and are having a tough time getting back into the job market.

Before & After

Much love to brand mascots — maybe not this stoned trash can though.

Glitter came to us with a logo. A wild logo. The trash can bud was a litttttttttttle creepy, but if we’re looking for silver linings, it laid the foundation for sticking with a brand mascot. Here at Smith & Diction we loveeeeeee brand mascots. We’ve made a bunch of em and it’s a studio goal to include “a lil bud” in nearly every brand we make. Here’s a sheet of some of our favorites from the past.

Group X, Humans in the Wild, Coureur, Reclaimed Motel, Clark, Càphê Roasters

Anyway, back to Glitter. I was talking to my bud Travis Ladue about this project and he immediately was like, “It should be a raccoon!” And I was like, “You sunnavabitch you’re right!” so that’s what we did.

Raccoons are perfect. They look cute, but they are kinda mean. They have thumbs, which is weird but good for picking up trash and giving thumbs ups. Meets the criteria. Let’s roll.

This project was Summer’s first brand identity where she fully took the lead and boy did she crush it. She brought this playful bud to the table and we loved him right away. Such great personality, waving and frolicking. We presented him and the Glitter folks loved ’em BUT wanted to add a bit more color and depth. They also didn’t want to have him using a stick to pick up trash, because it felt a little too much like a prisoner situation which we were not going for at all.

We gave him some friendlier eyes, a little belly, a fun hat, and a bright work vest. I love where we landed. I think it’s the perfect blend of approachable and artsy. And we didn’t want this lil bud to have just one facial expression, so we (we being Summer) designed out a bunch, so we could put a mad face on top of trashy street pics, then a happy face when it’s all cleaned up. Every meeting we had, I was so excited to see what new face Summer would come up with next.

This was one of those projects where you’re so excited to keep adding on to it because the possibilities are just endless. We even got our buddy James Dybvig to animate this little guy like you saw up in the opening. My dude is putting in WORK, with a smile obviously.

Summer also made this fun billboard in case Glitter ever wants to announce a leaf cleaning service. We just wanted to demonstrate that this mascot can basically do anything we want him to. Another point for awesome mascots.

A wordmark with a smile and a wave

This wordmark kinda needed to match the friendliness of the Raccoon as well, so we were like damn, if only a typeface could smile. Well if ya didn’t know, now ya know, Luzi Type’s Faro literally has a smile (lucky) or frown (sad) mood slider. Cheers to the designer who thought that was a good idea. You saved our niche needed butts.

The trick was getting that friendliness but also maintaining clear and professional legibility. Nothing that was too bouncy, this thing also needs to live in board rooms and have some serious conversations. So when you need to be super buttoned up you can ditch the raccoon and lead with this solid wordmark.

Creating icons with a little local flavor.

As much as we love mascots, sometimes they need a little support. (Don’t we all from time to time?) So we developed a full set of icons for the Glitter folks, made in the same bright, fun illustrative style as our main raccoon. Now they can use these icons to tell a story or to make a quick “we’re hiring” post on social without thinking too much about it. We just wanted to make something that felt at home stylistically, but also nodded to Philly with the row home style and whatnot. Something that’s just slightly more personalized than the stuff you can buy online.

Icons are also a really nice touch when you’re working with a trash brand, so you don’t have to use endless photos of trash filled streets, which feels kinda bad and gross if that’s all you’re using over and over. At least our trash cans are cute.

When you need your type to feel like a friendly drunk uncle, think about using an Oh No typeface.

We knew that pairing type with this raccoon’s personality was going to be a challenge. The raccoon is kinda plump with a little bit of a drunk uncle kinda vibe, so when we tried Oh No’s Obviously, it felt perfect. James, I’m deeply sorry that I aligned your typeface with a drunk raccoon.

But in all seriousness, Obviously is perfectly not serious. It’s heavy without being abrasive. And it’s clear without being bland. This typeface was the perfect partner for our raccoon bud. Even when the raccoon is nowhere to be seen, it feels like this type came from his mouth….if that makes sense.

We paired obviously with Epilogue (a Google font) because we all don’t have that Oh No money for body copy kna mean haha. In all reality I’d love to go to a conference and just talk about the role of Google fonts in branding. Nearly every project we work on, the client asks for Google alternatives so they can use their brand in their internal Google slides decks and whatnot. At what point it is too much to have a super fun playful external font that is only seen 10% of the time vs just using a Google font externally and internally. It’s a super weird problem that I get hung up on often, but I’m always curious what other folks think on this.

Talk trashy to me baby.

Whenever we create a brand, we like to build out all kinds of fun extra doo-dads to make sure that the brand can actually work out there in the wild. We call this Brandwork and it always varies from client to client because all of our clients are special and unique like beautiful snowflakes.

But one standard thing that we almost always include is a proposal cover and a few interior page templates so clients can get an idea of how to put this thing into use in their day to day decks. The one we made for this brand was especially fun. Imagine rolling up to a board room and seeing “Let’s talk trash” massively projected on the screen in front of you. It’s automatically going to put you in a better mood than if we were like “Philadelphia’s Trash Statistics 2023.” We’re all humans out here, let’s start treating each other like it.

We also made some additional characters to demonstrate how you should talk to your neighbors about Glitter. We made some door hangtags, which we thought would be such a fun little brand extension that could catch people’s eyes as they were walking down the street. Anything is better than the door knockers for out-of-touch politicians. Just WALLS on WALLS of text. I know you’ve got a lot to say, but figure out a more concise way my fellow Americans.

Giving our raccoon some style. And some guides.

As we do with all our clients, we also put together a highly comprehensive style guide for our Glittery buds. If you’re curious what that looks like give it a peep here.

This brings us to color. We really wanted to create something that felt light and airy for this brand, to counter the big black trash bag energy—while also giving them a nice ownable shade. They REALLY didn’t like the high vis orange/red they had before. They wanted to feel fresh and clean, so we leaned into these honeydew and teal shades as the primary colors. I thinkkkkk they are even trying to get some safety vests printed in this teal as well. Which, hell, I might wear on my own just chillin’ at my desk.

So yeah, we leaned into the teals but also built out a playful secondary palette that allowed them to have some fun in the illustrations and on social media, so the brand wasn’t JUST feeling blue. We needed some purples and oranges in there to spice it up and give some nice poppy moments as well.

Do you live in Philly? Do you have to wade through a mountain of trash to get to your front door? Sign up for Glitter!!!!!

Honestly, this service is great. If you live in Philly, I’d recommend sharing this with your neighbors and see if it’s something they are interested in going in on. Cleaner streets are safer streets. Be proud of your block and don’t worry when playing with your kids that they might fall into a pile of glass or when walking your dog that at any moment they might step on a stray needle. Plus you get to help some folks that might be having a hard time getting a job at the moment. Win win win win.

Head over to their website to learn more or sign up.

Now for everyone’s favorite segment: (Audience chants) Let’s. See. The. Other. Direction!!!! (Loud Applause.)

The other direction for this work was super fun. Summer went all out creating a completely custom wordmark based on some playful graffiti lettering. Then we added in a sort of ‘60s school house rock twist to it with some wild colors. We wanted this to feel like the title card of a really fun ‘60s sitcom or something like that. Really screaming for your attention.

Summer drew some fun neighbors talking about Glitter for an out of home campaign type thing. We envisioned a neighborhood made out of human-ish people that lived with human-ish pets haha. We just wanted to create something inclusive and also super eye catching that got people talking. Plus dog-in-a-hat. Gotta love hats on dogs.

To push that ‘60s vibe even further we introduced some fun dimensional type that could be used on presentation covers and whatnot. Just to add some emphasis and beauty so some ironic words. Have you ever seen trash look so beautiful??

We created some characters for this direction as well. Like this little house that was walking around being a house, as a house does. This direction was all about weird fun, but in the end it ended up being a little too weird and too vintagey. Totally fair feedback. We felt like the raccoon was much better for their audience and were totally fine shipping this direction out into space with all of the other trash.

We love working on stuff like this because these are the people that are putting in the hard work to make a difference. Trying to solve something that truly feels impossible. They believe in the power of people. And without people like them we’d all be living in some pretty trashy situations.

Once, I was at a conference where the topic was “Can design save the world?” It ended up devolving into a garbage conversation about the extinction of dinosaurs which made me mad, but it got me thinking. Design alone cannot save the world. But design can help educate and convince people that they should save the world. Design can also make saving the world slightly more convenient/accessible, so it’s not for nothing. If this one project can help make a few streets in Philly cleaner then I’m super super proud we’re helping in our own little way. #designleader

Did you like this project? Want to work with us and make some funky stuff together? Let’s goooooooo.

Shoot us an email at → hello@smith-diction.com. We love talking to all kinds of folks. Even if we can’t work with you for some reason, we’ll try to intro you to someone who can! Networking!

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