images I’ve taken from UnderConsideration and a few other spots showing some of that current brand treatment. This is a long one folks. Bear with us. The following is from an exchange fellow Hugger Lisa and I had about a lecture we both attended along with some other Huggers, given by Willy Wong (senior vice president and executive creative director at NYC & Company, the City of New York’s official marketing, tourism, and partnerships organization) and Miriam Greenberg (author of “Branding New York City: How a City in Crisis was Sold to the World”) on the recent rebranding of New York City. I thought it would be interesting and probably the first dual author post yet at GraphicHug™. We both had some observations and they are encapsulated in this miniature exchange. Although a lot of it is very specific to the lecture, here is a little bit for those who are interested: Chris wrote: I thought it was interesting. I think branding a city is a real interesting gig. Like real interesting. I can’t think of the last time I visibly noticed any city branding. I think LA has a little bit. I haven’t seen much in SF. Or perhaps I just missed it entirely. But it does exist in some capacity if I remember correctly. I thought the campaigns they presented tonight were okay. But not overwhelmingly groundbreaking. And it is definitely hard to gauge success I’m sure. I always feel like street teams are a cop out. IMHO it doesn’t really work. They look good to two people, the client and future prospective clients. It looks “real, human, engaging” and what not. But I feel people much more enjoy seeing pictures of them after the fact. The actual act of engaging with people on the streets never works. When was the last time you talked to any one of those schwag wielding barbarians who harass you? My other thought too is that I wonder really to whom are they reaching out to? If this is to generate tourism, I’m wondering how the brand perception is outside of the United States?(I may have missed this part of the lecture entirely) How does one sustain a campaign or brand internationally? How does one generate a feeling about New York in a non-english speaking language. I think there is so much built into the brand of New York that if anything, I would be interested in how they could continue to really attempt to adjust those feelings. I think the marque is pretty solid. I had a feeling Wolf Olins did it. I appreciate their recent perspectives towards branding and the now somewhat antiquated traditional corporate Identity. It really doesnt need to function just in black and white any more and read on fax machines. And I wonder if this is more of the rising and changing face of media and media outlets. An identity, can be much more broadcast centric. Multi-faceted and not so bound to the print world. In response, Lisa wrote: I think branding a city is a really interesting situation. I don’t mind the NYC lock-up specifically. I did mind it for awhile, but I’ve grown to understand it a bit better. But just as Wolff Olins’ also-semi-infamous London 2012 logo, it doesn’t work unless its in a media situation. It needs content to be in context. they exist at an interesting distance away from the thing they are identifying. This is my interpretation of their philosophy they’ve employed on these and several other brands of late. It’s a user-generated brand. Which, in at least some ways, is what brand NYC had to be — in order to be popular, to be for the everyman/woman. It could not be sny, sarcastic, unoptimistic, dated, unvibrant, or unchanging. That’s why dozens (dozens and dozens) of design firms did all sorts of free exploratory work for Bloomberg in 2004/05 to begin to get a sense of what this “identity” needed to become, and at once remain as current and contemporary as possible with whatever solution they would end up taking on. Admittedly, I’ve found it somewhat satisfying to see the NYC logo and its Helvetica Bold counterparts at the bottom of subway ads on city initiatives. it makes me feel like newyorkcity(tm) has a voice of authority who is offering you information that is good for you. With the motion ads that were presented this evening, they made me laugh and squirm a little. I saw the “international audience” one (with the surreal animation on live-action footage) for the first time at the Javits Center a few months ago. I totally get it. It’s all “the glitz, the glam, the sounds, the feelings, the romance and the all the important things this city is! oh, new york, here I come!” video. Is that NYC? Really? I suppose when I was 11 and saw a Broadway musical, watched the Thanksgiving Day parade and went to Radio City’s Rockettes with my parents, that was what NYC was like to me as a visitor. It was a place where all these things happened, a whirlwind of juxtapositions I wouldn’t — nay, couldn’t — yet understand. I thought the variety of different illustrations they used in the overseas posters were awesome. at least from that distance, I was intrigued. It too bad that they address the international audience with such different visuals. Why can it not be more “international” here in NYC? Aren’t we international? This city is full of everything and everyone from everywhere, we would respond to that sort of campaigning the most. Another city with very-present branding is Amsterdam. Big statues, shirts, keychains, booklets, coasters, tickets, etc. with “iamsterdam”. It’s not all about user-generated content, but it is very open to everyones’ personal interpretation of what the city is to themselves. To each his/her own city. Thanks Lisa. I guess this has been talked about quite a bit. As a newcomer to New York, I guess I haven’t been involved in the hub bub. You can read more about it here, here, and here. Here is the campaign I thought wasn’t quite hitting the mark:

Here is the mark as “transparent plane.”

Here is the initial cab treatment that started the uproar:

Here is a campaign that formally, I appreciated:

Overall, interesting work.


  1. Ryan Lee says:

    Call me crazy, but I’ve actually never liked that NYC marque. Some of those executions are ok, but none of them seem dependent on the marque itself. Out of the examples you’ve shown it seems like there’s a big disconnect between the first five, that “just ask the locals” campaign, and the “This is New York City” campaign.

  2. Lisa Maione says:

    nope, you’re not crazy, its pretty intense and can be hard to take in, in the more traditional senses. also, i am not a fan of the taxi identity mash-up.

    in response to your comment on the disconnect between those 3 parts — the first bit is purely the application of the mark and the mark as it acts as a carrier of content. the “just ask the locals” is an specific outreach campaign aimed at tourists (that’s how I take it, at least) that is more timely and not to be used forever. the last set of more illustrative work is used only abroad (apparently) and not here in the US.

  3. James Chae says:

    I don’t much enjoy seeing these NYC posters in Boston. It’s not the’s not the art…I just really don’t see the point.

  4. Chris Ro says:

    Yeah, based on a lot of what I was reading and finding out, this really has not been an overly popular branding effort or campaign. BUT. I nevertheless think it’s an interesting approach. I wasn’t fond of the marque at first but I think I am starting to get what they are trying to do. But I think that is their modus operandi these days (Wolf Olins that is), is to stir the pot, and change the paradigm a bit. And what I enjoy most, is the everyone can participate identity. Atleast the idea. Although, I have yet to see this marque used in such a manner. On the streets atleast.

  5. Lauren Kim says:

    the two times i remember being consciously aware of the NYC logo in public: 1) the taxi graphic 2)the logo at the bottom right hand corner of a domestic violence awareness poster on the subway. i must say, that “cartoony” logo stuck out like a sore thumb on a somber poster like that. although the whimsical-esque logo may work on those “designed” posters and marketing collateral mentioned above, that poster i saw on the subway is just another example of failed realization of the possibility of context.

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