Rhode Island released a new logo this week as part of a $5 million integrated campaign to attract tourism and business.
The square logo includes a white sail created by the negative space formed by swipes of color: red, yellow and blue. It is surrounded by the words “Rhode Island” along the top and right side and the new slogan, “Cooler & Warmer,” along the left and bottom. It was created by Milton Glaser, whose past work includes the iconic “I Love NY” logo.
The Associated Press asked designers to weigh in:
MILTON GLASER, graphic designer and creator of Rhode Island’s new logo
Glaser said he wanted to evoke a “sense of the sea and sailing and the sunny sky and climate.”
“There’s something about the idea of a billowing sail full of the wind and an idea of a sunny sky,” he said, adding that he believes it is “something in repetition that people will feel positive about, and once they saw it, they would remember it.”
For the slogan, cooler was to denote that new things are happening in Rhode Island, while warmer was “to fight against that idea of New England being standoffish and unfriendly.”
“It creates a little puzzle in the mind of the viewers,” he said. “That’s what makes it stick in the mind.”
JOHN CASERTA, head of the graphic design department at Rhode Island School of Design, founder of The Design Office, a space for independent designers
“As a singular form, as an object, it’s trying to do a lot of things and kind of doing nothing at the same time. It’s generic, and it’s packing a lot of words in, and it’s neither clear nor enigmatic. It doesn’t make me want to understand the state more,” he said. “It’s building on a sailboat view of a state, which I don’t think is necessarily why people would come.”
The image is not strong enough to say “Rhode Island” without the text, whereas in the “I Love NY” logo, the text and image are integrated, he said.
Caserta praised Glaser as a New York designer well known for his work in the 20th century but took issue with the process, saying the state never approached anyone at RISD, one of the world’s top design schools, even to ask for ideas about which designers to approach as they set out to develop the campaign.
MATT LUCKHURST, of the Collins design firm in San Francisco, whose work includes Facebook’s M app and Airbnb’s rebranding campaign
The new logo “feels like someplace I’m supposed to go and enjoy.”
“There’s a positive, summer breeziness to it,” Luckhurst said. “It’s beautiful in how minimal it is.”
Luckhurst said the vibrant colors and hand-drawn aesthetic are characteristic of Glaser’s work.
“Most other tourism logos tend to be some terrible script that feels very polite,” Luckhurst said.
DINAH FRIED, of the New York firm Small Stuff, who teaches at RISD
“If you look at the forms and you look at the tagline, it doesn’t feel this is about Rhode Island. It could be about any number of places,” said Fried, who works on branding identity. “It doesn’t feel like it personifies the state. It feels ubiquitous.”
GREG NEMES, of the design firm Work-Shop, who teaches at RISD
“I couldn’t decouple it from climate change. I saw the colors, which are kind of weather graphics colors,” he said. “The meaning got jumbled up. The intended meaning of cooler and warmer, I haven’t been able to buy into that.”
EMILY RYE, of Design Agency, a Providence-based firm
Rye called cooler and warmer the weakest part of the campaign. She noted the phrase wasn’t being used with the mark on the state’s tourism website, VisitRhodeIsland.com.
“Almost already it’s being sidelined. There may be a reason for that,” she said. “I don’t know how long that slogan is going to stick. It doesn’t say much.”