I heart New York. It even says so on the coffee cup I use every morning. There’s a good chance you heart NY as well, and you might even have a T-shirt proclaiming that to the world. New York is the greatest city in the world, and for thirty years they’ve had the logo to prove it.
This is one of the most famous and successful place-branding campaigns of all times. It is a simple, direct, and fun delivery of New York’s essential promise — that it is a place to love, and maybe to fall in love. It took on new, more urgent meaning after 9/11, and the I heart NY slogan gave the city and world an easy shorthand for explaining how they felt about the place after the attcks.
But the logo is not the property of the city, it’s the property of the state, and about a year ago the tourism bureau decided the logo needed refreshing, to show the world that NY was not just a city but a state with camp grounds and ski resorts and wildlife. Why they’d want to risk having tourists confuse New York with Canada is beyond me, but they gave Saatchi and Saatchi $17 million, and here’s what they came up with:
Squirrels, and snow.
Set aside the fact that Saatchi and Saatchi have ripped them off. This logo would be a bad idea at any price. The genius of this logo is its blank simplicity: You can love New York in all of its manifestations and permutations.
Yes, the logo is much imitated and parodied, but all the more reason not to frig with it. The original is the authentic, and nothing else is or can be.