RUSSIA, KALUGA OBLAST
Tarussa
Inspires on town branding
Tarussa is the quiet scenic town in the ecological part of Kaluga Oblast, setting on the shores of the Oka River. Due to its uniquely preserved appearance, most of the buildings had been kept in original state, built in the 19th century. Thereby the town got the status of a natural-architectural reserve. Lack of the railway service plays into the hands of creating a distant perfect place for spending summers here for the Moscow residents. Many famous people, including poetess Marina Tsvetaeva, writers Konstantin Paustovsky and Nikolai Zabolotsky, painter Viktor Borisov-Musatov and pianist Svyatoslav Richter had been living here and deeply associates with Tarussa since.

Client: Tarussa administration

Work: research, strategy, design, branding

2016 … 2018
We had been invited by the head of the administration to create a brand for this place. This was one of the toughest projects. We faced the demanding patriarchic community with complex non-obvious requirements but, finally, created one of the most elaborated brandbook we've ever made, stepping on all the rakes possible alongside.
Inside the art
You'd rather call it a picture gallery, than the common town. Immersive atmosphere takes you from real world to the art of paintings, poetry and living historical figures through the picture frame. This fragile and beautiful place looks forbidden until residents will approve you as the guest and treat you with their special apple jam.
We asked the birds to take a bird view
Have a look at the intentionally mixed photos of the past and present for you to feel that unforgettable Tarussa vibe and found the oil painting not scaling up any one of them:
Research
It took us around 1,5 years to finish up the whole process till the eng and the research part took around one-third of it. Tarusa appeared to have a very closed patriarchic community. It was one of the most demanding and jealous to the point of seeking its real identity. That is totally not obvious when visiting town as a tourist.
  • 2 strategic sessions

    1st: local entrepreneurs, town and district administration, museums, residents, media, art communitiy
    2nd: young generation
  • 4 round tables

    Town communities, including museum, administration, HoReCa.
  • 33 interviews

    Mostly local entreptreneurs and people who are more willing to communicate tête-à-tête
  • 7 presentations

    Showing work, getting feedback, discussing, talking
This is only the small part of all the meetings we've held and not of them were piece of cake. Some were more like a tarusa apple jam.
Interesting, that many residents suggested to share their thought on Tarusa using emotions and sences. They were sure, that the only way to speak about Tarusa is to feel it. Quite often do we hear that, to be honest.
  • Smell

    Lilacs, cherry blossoms, ozone after a thunderstorm, freshness, grass smell
  • Touch

    Natural and warm, bouquet of daisies, oil on canvas
  • See

    Lanscapes of Oka river and forest, cherry blossom, pine forest
  • Hear

    Classical music, church bells, nightingales,
    the bazaar, Sviatoslav Richter
  • Taste

    Apples, strawberries, tea, ginger cookies, baked goods, water flavor
  • Intuition

    Native, free, place of wonder, creativity, tranquility, peace, serenity
Tarusa is all about attentiveness towards what you hear from the community. The more open you to what you hear and see, the more ready pears you get, that you can use.
You're the office worker in Moscow, while you're an artist in Tarusa
Lucky found citation from one of the strategic sessions, told by one of the residents
Tarussky district head of administration Eugeny Maltsev
Strategic session in the town administration
Strategic session in the town administration
Natalia Rybalchenko
Natalia Rybalchenko
Interview with Irina Anatolievna Ageeva, Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism of Kaluga Region, and Daniil Kuznetsov, Director of Kaluga tourist center
Interview with Varvara Anatolievna Antokhina, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of Kaluga Region
Interview with Natalia Denisovna Verzilina, Chairperson of the Council on Culture, Tourism and Education at the Tarusa City Council
Interview with Irina Igorevna Pavlovets, Director of the TIC in Tarusa, and TIC employees
Interview with Vladimir Aleksandrovich Samokhin from Tarusskoe Vremya cafe
Interview with Roman Viktorovich Solovyov, Deputy Head of Tarussky District Administration, and entrepreneur Dmitry Anatolyevich Lomako
Interview with Nikolay Petrovich Kiryanov from cottage settlement Tarusa
Interview with SCB Director Victor Alexandrovich Davydov
Inspired tagline
The tagline had been announced by the head of administration on the first strategic session:
As I always tend to say: "Tarusa inspires"
Eugeny Maltsev
EX HEAD OF TARUSSA ADMINISTRATION
We had worked out other variants with copywriter Irina Zvereva, yet none of them could compete with the one above. Looking ahead this part of the brand remained the most impactful on the town.
Tarusa inspires you
Inspired by thinking in frames
Galleries and exhibitions can be met everywhere in Tarusa. Rows of art put in the frames decorate every single wall in the administration buildings, schools more than in every other place we've been. This peculiarity might remain unnoticed if not taken in experience of discouraged emotions after one of the meetings:
Natalia Rybalchenko and Igor Makovksy perform at the Entrepreneur's day in Tarusa (2017)
Annoyance caused by new wave of contradictions made by the discordant working group left us thinking of framed and separated community, that can't accept a single result. Desparated, yet decisively we draw a set of frames on a wall, where every opinion and every artist had been put in his one frame. The set of different creative persons, that form the Tarussa art community itself. Surprisingly this image has touched the residents. People saw themselves in here. Thats how negative emotions lead us to the successful result.
Natalia Makovsky
BRAND STRATEGIST
We like to use this case as an example of including deep observations and not so positive experiences in the final results. It is that same valuable extra cost that gives a brand its versatility and depth.
Igor Makovsky
BRAND DESIGNER
Inspired manifest
We wrote the ultimate brand manifest for the brand manager to promote and develop the brand ideas correctly. Wish Tarusa had one.
1. Frame for a picture is like a brand for a town. While picture should be put in a frame, the same is with the town, that has borders and its identity
2. Art tends to be born in restrictions. The same is with town growth, which will be way more productive if there'll be a bright strategy for residents to follow
3. Tarusa is the town communicating with emotions like a piece of art. Getting inside the frames of the town is always the beginning of personal story.
4. Art leaves personal
emotions, so does the Tarusa. That's why brand looks personal as well.
5. Tarusa is the picture gallery under the sky. Whether you look through a frame everything will look like a piece of art a bit
6. Nature inspired Tarusa residents through emotions and sensations. Tarusa itself inspires tourists on creating art with its views, smells, sounds and tastes
7. Tarusa is the home for many artists, poets and creative people. Everywhere you look, you feel like you're among works of art in a natural art gallery, a museum
8. Visiting Tarusa is like visiting museum, having an inner dialogue with yourself. The town communicates with its visitors through texts, wayfinding and the brand
9. Every decent museum requires a respectful treatment. So does every visitor has to obey rules being inside the frames of Tarusa borders
10. Tarusa resident observs his personal boundaries, respects traditions, appreciates his history and being attentive to those around him,
so he expects the same from visitors
11. Each artist is a self-sufficient author with his own opinion, frame and respect.
Obey those frames and act respectfully and you'll be welcomed
12. The town has a rich history that demands respectful treatment and puts tourist in a frame. Either he falls in love with Tarusa forever and become a part of it, or it will remain just a fleeting memory.
13. Picture gallery which town looks like have to update the exposition to stay fascinating. The same with brand which should be dynamic.
14. Static galleries are no match for interactive ones today.
The key in Tarusa brand is a dialogue, communication that is used in wayfinding.
15. Every work of art needs the frame that will suit it perfectly.
So every person who uses Tarusa brand need his own Tarusa themed logo.
16. Not everyone will be taken into the future. Yet the Tarusa community has slightly more possibilities for this with the brand than without.
Inspiring logo
Idea of using frames was spacious to include all the ideas:
  • Picture galleries
  • Door into the nature
  • Inspiring from nature
  • Portraits of great people
  • Natural textures
  • Universal frame symbol
  • Town coat of arms
  • Endless variety of designs
Behold not just a logo, rather than the whole picture exhibition of the uniquness. Every part in its own frame with its own rules. Whole composition represents the community of Tarusa people, inspired with art:
Tarussa brand logo in all its frameness
Tarussa brand logo in less frameness
Tarussa frameness in simplified designs lacks trambling hand and small details
Varativeness is a mandatory part of every place branding project, with only one requirement: a good designer have to cope with the brand. Sadly, not every town has enough competencies to use anything more complex than PowerPoint software to work with.
Highly customizable logos for every need
Logo customization inteded to have no limits by the brand launch date. It was supposed that users would be able to create personalized versions themselves easily, following some basic rules. The final results used to vary a lot from the original.
Used to be made for local weaving production, yet used as official tourist center logo
Tarusa vs Tarussa
One of our meetings with the working team had been interrupted by a sudden question from the head of administration that we haven't been ready to:
Why do you include USA in Tarusa?
Eugeny Maltsev
EX HEAD OF TARUSSA ADMINISTRATION
Turned out, it was the USA that could be easily taken out from the Tarusa logo when put in two rows. This was the ultimate purpose for immediate changing the title and adding the second S, for wiping out western culture. According to wiki, that writing is also accepted.

Tarusa logo with USA impact detected
Inspiring design
Demanding, yet very diverse approach to the design mostly holds up around the frame row.
Set of inspring designs in tarusa style that easy to admire and hard to implement
Inspiring texts
Long, overdescriptive, slow-pace texts taken from the art albums meant to convey the idea of getting inside a book of fine-arts. Its writing style stands in contrast to the widespread informative style that begs to write shorter and clear. But Tarusa plays different.
  1. The genius who made this, probably was gonna…
  2. The painting is filled with peace and tranquility…
  3. It's hard to look away, from smth…
  4. He masterfully applied them to the canvas and conveyed a hundred saturated shades of all the beauty and mystery…
  5. There are notes of sadness and joy at the same time…
  6. His paintings often cause viewers not only positive emotions, but…
  7. Behold the great masterpiece of a forgotten artist…
  8. The composition is thought out to the smallest details…
  9. Let us close our eyes and imagine the story behind this…
  10. We can only guess what artist was going to say…
Excerpt from the list of texts to help create long and artsy messages fast and easy
Overdescriptive text on the river curve written in Tarusa art style
Entrepreneurs and inspiring AI
In times of overwhelming AI growth, it became much more easier to create both the artsy images and the descriptions in the proper style just for fun. Here is an exmple from the brandbook for some restaurant.
"Gallery of the Edible Art" offers dishes like paintings, describing them accordingly
We offer few variants to show the versatility of the brand to inspire entrepreneurs imagine how the brand could work
Igor Makovsky
BRAND DESIGNER
Inspiring map
Concept of a bright map with oil painting background is more of a creative inspiring illustration. A new updated much more useful map is in plans.
Concept of Tarusa map made of oil paint
Concept of Tarusa map made in the shape of the palette
Inspiring town guidelines
Tarusa town guidelines starterpack on the example of the pedestrian Lenin Street.
Do's and dont's of town guidelines on the example of Lenin street
Tarusa signs to inspire your day appear both on the maps and on the streets
Big house plaques
When building is placed far from the observer, typically the block houses
House plaques
Titles can be separated and the whole composition represent the set of frames
Directional signs
Include illustrations for inspirations
Inspiring Tarusa today
As of the end of 2023, the brand manifestation is widely used more orally than visually. Slogan "Tarusa inspires" is widespread, yet design usage is poor. Brandbook appeared to be too difficult to abide and there had been mistakes in its implementation.
1. Limited access to brand content from entrepreneurs. It was definately a bad idea for the administration to put results behind a lock and ask for getting permissions to use.
2. Low media coverage overall. There's no way the brand will live without the mass discussions and social implementation. Often it goes from the fear of mass discourse that could lead to overstimulation of some unsatisfied residents.
3. Lack of brandmanager. If there's nobody to deal with the brand than there'll be no hope it will develop.
Finally, residents reproduced the brand guidelines the way they understand and put picture and photo galleries right on the streets. That's fantastic.

Series of improvement initiatives had been planned for 2024, so things might change to good with the increased administration support (almost 7 years since project release) and additional grants and finances.
Tarusa has its personalized depiction of the brand concept and we had been happy to meet the window casings across the town. Inspired by the brand, that's for sure.
Igor Makovsky
BRAND STRATEGIST, BRAND DESIGNER
Vasily Dubeykovsky and Alexey Novoselov are checking the new tourist center
More on Tarusa inspiration here:
  1. Tarusa celebrated 777 years with heave modified logo
  2. Official vk tourist group partly uses our design and slogan
  3. One-day bus trip across Tarusa sightseeings inspired by our naming
  4. Exhibition in Polenovo is inspired by our naming, as well
  5. Article on Tarusa tourist development initiatives in Znamya media
  6. Legacy official Tarussky district webpage used our logo in the header
Happy ending, left-to-right: Natalia Rybalchenko, Eugeny Maltsev (head of administration), Igor Makovsky
  • Natalia Rybalchenko
    Brand strategist, concept, idea, communication
  • Igor Makovsky
    Art direction, designer, illustrator
  • Anastasia Obudenkova
    Journalist, analytics
  • Eugeny Maltsev
    Sergey Manakov
    Yuri Borisov
    Vanya Ksenofontov,
    Katya Mironova
    Thanks for support
  • Brownfox
    Gerbera font
  • Irina Zvereva
    Copywriter
  • Welna Resort
    Inspired place to stay
More projects in Russia and CIS
VLADIMIR OBLAST
2015 … 2017
VOLOGODSKAYA OBLAST
2014 … 2018
MOSCOW OBLAST
2019
VLADIMIR OBLAST
2015
KALUGA OBLAST
2016 … 2018
LENINGRADSKAYA OBLAST
2020
REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
2021
Kurchatov town brand
Rockstar in nuclear town branding
Desnogorsk 100%
100% best winner nuclear town branding
Maraphon map
Dark times of communication map creating
Suzdal brand
Key project in our town branding experience
Ogurets restaurant in Suzdal
From concept till the design of the last pickle
Sarapul map
Randevouz with the town of the ginger girl
New Jerusalem Pilgrim's Path
In help of a finding way to the pilgrims
Snova cafe Snova cafe Snova
Cafe in New Jerusalem museum Cafe in New Jerusalem museum
Tarussa brand
Inspires on town branding
Kuskovo moscow park brand
Branding of the park that you've been living next to
Constellation of Small Towns in Russia
Association of small tourist towns product
Small towns: best practices
30 best practices for you to inspire
Syasstroy brand
Concept of a paper town upon the Ladoga lake
Wayfinding for monotowns
Handbook of methodical recommendations and practical examples
Wayfinding for Sergiev Posad
Blessed regulations and requirements for the wayfinding system
Samovar museum in Cherepovets
Unique gas station with Zaraysk vibe
Gavrilov Posad
The Palatial horse plant brand
Russian Gusto Fest 2014
First international food festival in Russia
Benzar gas station
Unique gas station with Zaraysk vibe
5 Perm municiples
5 municiples in 5 days to visit and inspire
Molyobka brand...
Paranormal ufological placebranding...
Khokhlovka on the move
Architectural museum branding with a twist
Forest cuisine brand
Personal jam brand with the pine wood vibes
Orange Guide: Moscow region
Guide to be a place branding expert