• Julia Sylla

The Cat's Out of the Bag: Parking Kitty is Winning an Award

We are delighted to share that a project we worked on is receiving an award. Parking Kitty, an app commissioned by Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), allows users to feed the city’s parking meters using their smartphones. Today, the innovation and hard work that went into this effort, led by PBOT Parking Division Director Malisa McCreedy, is being honored with the 2017 Innovative Transportation Solutions (Project of the Year) award from the Portland chapter of WTS (formerly known as Women’s Transportation Seminar).

We had the distinct pleasure of developing the name and designing the logo for Parking Kitty and have been wanting to share a post about it for several months now. What better time than this?

First, we’d like to say how much we appreciate having had the opportunity to work with PBOT on a brand with such a broad reach, not to mention the leeway they gave us to come up with something fun and imaginative. The thing that has really made this project a success, though, is the fact that the folks at PBOT took this brand and really ran with it -- have you seen Moshow the Cat Rapper’s Parking Kitty music video?

Because this was such an exciting project for us to work on, we've been wanting to share a post about the creative work that went into it. For us, the process of creating the Parking Kitty brand really was a labor of love. The brand went through seven creative rounds over eight months before the app launched in May 2017. Here’s how it all went down.

First, the name

It was surprisingly tricky to come up with a name for this puppy...errm...kitty. We had to come up with something catchy, representative, and not already the name of an app. Fairly challenging in a world where there’s an app for pretty much everything.

We started with a list of 24 names and, working closely with a team of wordsmiths from PBOT, Washington Park and Portland State University, whittled said list down to the singular “Parking Kitty.” Here are some of the names that we liked, but which didn’t quite make the cut:

  • Autoboto

  • Meter Minder

  • PayBOT (Get it?)

  • RITA (An homage to the Beatles’ lovely meter maid.)

  • Sweeter Meter

  • Lewis & Park

  • Car Blanche

“Parking Kitty” made its way to the top of the list time and time again for a couple reasons. For one thing, you can tell pretty easily from the title what the app is for. For another, it includes a sneaky little pun about money and cats, the latter of which Portlanders are purportedly obsessed with. Kitty is an old-timey term for “cash pot” -- as in “When Susie won the Bingo game, she took home a fifty dollar kitty.”

Then, the graphic

Once the name was dialed in, we started work on developing a graphic bug that brought three concepts together: parking, mobile applications, and cats. Eventually, we gave up on trying to hit all three concepts, and opted to leave out “parking” because it was so dominant in the name of the app.

Between the first graphic brainstorming phase to the final refining stages, many, many iterations of this logo were drafted. Here, however, is an condensed evolution of the Parking Kitty logo:

Evolution of Parking Kitty Graphic

Parking Kitty in the news

"Coin-Operated Parking Becomes Ancient History as Apps, Sensors Take Over Cities," USA Today, October 11, 2017 "Portland Introduces Parking Meter App, and It's Cat Themed," The Oregonian, May 19, 2017 "Parking Kitty Makes Parking in Portland Adorable," Tech Crunch, May 19, 2017

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