Sunday, January 04, 2009

Nuts to New New York logo

new york logo
Ok, so 17 million dollars doesn't seem like a lot to promote the greatest town on earth (feel free to dispute). Some folks on the Internet have suggested that $17m (US) for this logo is an outrage. I don't want to become enmeshed in yet another debate about what logos cost. Everyone knows it isn't the logo design that matters - it is the usage manual that really counts. Designers love to make little diagrams to show how much white space should be left around their precious motifs. A good manual is worth every cent.

The issue I have with Saatchi & Saatchi's re-render of Milton Glaser's original design is that it simply doesn't make it better than it was. It makes it worse. Adding a squirrel doesn't improve anything about the logo, or my understanding of New York. It may even confuse me. Squirrels remind me of London. It's a personal thing, Squirrels/London - Horse/Carriage - Love/Marriage… (actually the Love/Marriage thing is a stretch to make a point Marriage/Divorce seems more authentic - but I digress...)

Design doesn't get better by adding things. Glaser's original conception was perfect because it didn't need anything else to make its point. The rebus of the heart has become a default for 'love' in a way that I don't believe it did (in a design context) before. The addition of the squirrel seems to me like adding a 'Turbo' sticker to the flank of a Porsche. An unnecessary detail. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery said:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

I understand the money spent also accounts for media activity and the like and I can only hope Saatchi have done a less embarrassingly amateur job than they have with the logo.

Milton Glaser is still alive. I wonder what his opinion is?

If you are interested in the history of logo design I recommend Logo Design History

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