Friday, November 11, 2011

New USA Branding

The USA has "rebranded" itself with a fancy new logo in an attempt to boost tourism. I don't really like it. I can say, positively, that it avoids cliche. There are no images of apple pie, or flags, or a giant eagle breathing freedom, or whatever else people seem to think America represents. Instead, its network of dots represent population numbers and the diversity of the American people. Nice sentiment. My only issue is how overused the dot matrix is, especially recently. Sometimes the dots are square, other times they are circular, but it's always dots. I think that the first company to do this was way back in 1972, when Banque Nationale de Paris rebranded itself with a logo that they stupidly stopped using after a 1999 merger.

This allows me to talk briefly about something very important. While I don't like the logo, it's still a good logo. There is nothing glaringly wrong with it. A logo acquires meaning and significance when it is paired with what it represents. Separate from that thing, a good logo can manage some representation of personality, which is ideal, but it doesn't specifically need to.

For example, What does the IBM logo say about IBM? Nothing. Or Target? Nothing. They are simply bold and identifiable. This logo is bold and, while generic and unidentifiable, is being covered by every magazine on the planet, meaning that it will be very quickly associated with the United States and all of the great things therein (ya'know, forclosures, unemployment, and the such).

If I was going to create a logo along that same theme (if I had been designing the brand, I would have almost certainly gone in another direction), I think that I would have done a patchwork design. It's a tad overdone, but not as much as the dots. I've also viewed America as less a scattered group of different people and more a patchwork; many disparate elements of different colors and textures, tied together under the banner of "America." In fact, I get a little teary-eyed just writing that sentence.

I was also going to make the logo much more geometric, but as I was working on it, I thought that the broken, prototype version of the logo looked great. Again, looking slapdash, but still complete. I see this as, again, more like the US than the actual logo, where we are thrown together, having grown organically and with little rhyme or reason. and sometimes we don't appear to be a coherent "thing," but somehow, we are.

I added bulges to all four sides, giving the logo a three dimensional appearance while also furthering the general theme or a country literally bursting at the seams with diversity and energy.

 My logo retains a greater degree of uniqueness when cast in a single color, but still, the actual logo looks fine.

 I designed various color schemes, including the basic, which looks like a quilt. Two others are quasi-impressionist takes on a city and the countryside.
Both logos do very well when downsized to extreme levels. My logo retains greater identifiability at smaller sizes, with the actual logo gelling into simply a faint impression of the letters USA.

Is my logo much better? No. It needs a lot of refinement to be production-ready. My philosophy is better though. There are very few logos out there that are as wild as this one, which makes it exciting, friendly, and identifiable.

Finally, I've uploaded the original direction I was going to take, with rigidly defines lines and geometric letters. It illustrates why I was immediately bored with the idea when I saw the excitement available from broken lines and an energetic, haphazard appearance.

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