As cities around the world redesign and modernise their visual identities, the question of who they are designed for is becoming a far more essential consideration in the design process.
A good example of destination branding with unique simplicity is the wordmark for the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, created by design agency Graphéine. This pleasing “minimalist typogram” or “typographical skyline” (Graphéine, 2016) uses marks functioning as letters – the famous Eiffel Tower is juxtapositioned alongside a playfully tossed ball or romantic moon above a columnar skyscraper. Thoughtful, modern and carefree, the logo retains traditional iconography, while the sans serif typeface with wide tracking modernises, balances and increases readability to the letter “buildings”.
The branding is inviting, reversing out of a bright red background, which emotionally captures the visitor attractions of shopping, romance and passion. Since Paris is quite a well-known city already, the wordmark doesn’t need to convey further historical context and instead works by communicating the place as an easy and fun tourist experience.
In comparison, the new City of Boston identity designed by IDEO is not fun. It is used alongside a traditional official seal and is “a marketable, reproducible rendition…a simple, stately wordmark…sturdy and functional” (Brand New, 2017) conveying governmental authority. This new identity does what it is supposed to do and improves upon its predecessor, but one cannot help but feel sorry for the local citizenry who are not represented by any unique or distinguishing city features.
The generic underlining, standard tracking and bolded capital letters present a strong, united front against the recipient and enhance an “us versus you” message that is the opposite of its intention – instead of serving people, the logo insinuates governmental interference and control. Although the “B” monogram is less intense, it is still generically sober, especially when reversed out of black. “Arguably, this logo could say City of Chicago, City of Omaha, City of Seattle, and it would have the same effect” (Brand New, 2017).
The study of these two identities reveals that it is an incredibly difficult task to “…reconcile selling [a city] in a tourism sense and then receive your [governmental service] with the same symbol” (Glickfield, 2010, p.31).
Graphic designers need to examine the relationship between speakers and recipients carefully and thoroughly if they are to produce a place identity that functions as a source of civic pride, in order to obtain greater public enthusiasm and acceptance.
The new City of Boston logo could be applied to any city.
Brand New. (2017). New Logo and Identity for City of Boston by IDEO. Retrieved 03 August, 2017, from http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/new_logo_and_identity_for_city_of_boston_by_ideo.php
Brand New. (2016). New Logo and Identity for Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau by Graphéine. Retrieved 03 August, 2017, from http://www.underconsideration.com/brandnew/archives/new_logo_and_identity_for_paris_convention_and_visitors_bureau_by_grapheine.php
Glickfield, E. (2010). On Logophobia. Meanjin, 68 (3), 26-32. Retrieved from https://commons-swinburne-edu-au.ezproxy.lib.swin.edu.au/file/d5637c1a-5bb6-41ba-bc54-63f59ad4df93/1/522077.pdf
Graphéine. (2016). Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau rebranding. Retrieved 03 August, 2017, from https://www.grapheine.com/en/branding-en/paris-convention-and-visitors-bureau-rebranding