This morning my good friend from the squarehead kids introduced me to our new state slogan.....
Before I talk to its effectiveness, keep in mind I have no idea who made this, no idea how many "committee members" were involved in forcing hands and I most likely know what it's like to be in this designers shoes. Sometimes the designer has little say in the project's outcome (with a project this big, that fact needs to change) .... I also don't know the goal of the project which could affect my view on this piece. I don't know how much effort and time they spent trying their best to make this work. There are a few variables that could make this write up completely moot. But I have to say something.
I think North Dakota NEEDS a better mark than this to bring people here. I do however, understand it is a finished logo and not needed of any critique. All we can really do is learn from it and move on. so let's dig in.
being a designer is sometimes tough and in the words of my friend, "I really think this was not designed by a designer" but designed by a committee of untrained eyes.
What happened? Why did we go so sterile?
BREAKING DOWN THE MARKS
Our old Legendary logo had its problems I'm sure, but I never thought it was bad. It was working hard and well for the last 15 years, so I could see why we might need/want an update. I think this mark had a lot going for it. It told the outsider "adventure on the prairie!" which may or may not be true for a resident, but for an onlooker, it meant they could go ride horse, camp, mountain bike and just be away from all the noise of the city. At the least, it had energy and was a unique mark that won awards. (note: Awards don't REALLY matter, but it's worth saying at this moment)
"Legendary" was designed by one of North Dakota's most loved and known designers,
Mike Bruner. A designer I looked up to for as long as I can remember. If you look him up you will notice his work is anything but boring and unnoticeable. It is clean, unique and playful. In my mind, our first mistake was when we chose not to have this powerhouse designer revamp the mark... but I understand politics, pricing, and everything that goes into choosing the right designer/design firm. I just wanna list some local designers who could have done a really good job:
I don't even know all the designers in the area, but the point is, did we look at options in the freelance world? some of these kids are killing it hard.
I don't think this logo was done by any of these in the list but why? Why are the people on this list not working on things as important as - bringing tourists to our beautiful state? what I think happened is, we went with a design firm. I can 100% understand. This was very important to get right so you need to hire qualified people. Branding a state usually requires a few hands on deck, but maybe design firms need to outsource stuff like this, to specialized people.... not for everything of course, but for things that will perpetually make money for North Dakota for 15 years.... We should hire the best we can afford. I see the branding of North Dakota as an investment in our future. right now, I'm a little worried.
I think this is different than UND's mascot, or other "surprising" changes that happen every day. Change is good. When something is redesigned weather it be a logo, a brand, a refesh in style, it is completely normal to feel disconnected or even not like the new work, at least for a little while. Pepsi's logo looked uncomfortable at first, Instagram's new logo looked too simple at first. but they were designed well and they have worked their way into our daily life just fine. It worked because these marks were unique and DESIGNED to work.
our new mark seems to lack uniqueness and Design function. It doesn't need a critique but unless I missed something, we need a better mark to represent North Dakota.
- Ben Brick
Designer & Illustrator