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REBRANDING NYC: HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?





New York City has undergone a rebrand, and it has sparked outrage, to put it lightly. The new logo designed by Graham Clifford, reads WE❤️NYC, replacing Milton Glaser’s 1977 I❤️NY icon. Beyond the changes in the text of the logo itself, other notable modifications include the new sans-serif typeface and airbrushed three-dimensional heart symbol.


Here at Octonano, we do love a good rebrand. After all, we’re a branding agency – we understand that audiences and tastes change, and that all sorts of brands should be flexible and open to changing with the times. However, especially as a company that prides itself on honoring its roots in Italian tradition, we also believe that certain classics are not to be messed with. And the original I❤️NY, the one that was sketched in the back of a taxi, with its flat red heart and typewriter font, is one of them.


It seems that many internet users are also in agreement, including experts in design. Scott Belsky, the executive VP of Adobe, commented that the new icon “feels emoji-like and lacks anything that feels timeless or iconic.” Meanwhile, design director of Futurism Tag Hartman-Simkins said that it looked “feedbacked into the ground,” appearing to critique the lack of distinct character or aesthetic risk taken by the new logotype.


With that said, the new logo does seem to have been born from worthwhile efforts to unite and support the city, even if its ultimate effect falls a bit flat. The Helvetica font is intended to mimic that of the NY subway system (aka the “beating heart” of the city), and the tagline’s “We” instead of “I” was a deliberate adjustment to encourage feelings of solidarity amongst New Yorkers, especially after the trauma of the pandemic and the sociopolitical divides it brought about.


However, in our opinion, these efforts don’t quite necessitate the rebrand of a logo that New Yorkers already felt seen and represented by. We would have loved to see the rebrand opened to the public, so that the community could have felt part of the process and taken the new look in a direction that feels authentic – we at Octonano would have definitely participated.


As the new logo begins to permeate the city, we’re curious to see if it will start to become a real part of the city’s identity, or if it will always be “ I❤️NY.”


Thinking of rebranding? Make sure your new look gets the right response! Get in touch with our team of experts today.



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