The I ♥ NY logo was launched in the 1970s when New York City was at its grittiest and most dangerous. Since then graphic designer Milton Glaser’s creation has been emblazoned on every kind of souvenir imaginable, not to mention inspiring movies, clothing, graffiti and even food.
More than 50 years later, New York has just updated its iconic branding – not for the first time – to say We ♥ NY as part of an attempt to revitalise the city after COVID lockdowns.
And while lots of people hate the rebrand, it still reflects the intent behind the much-loved original logo. These days it’s hard to argue that the brand hasn’t done the job of communicating exactly how New Yorkers – and many tourists – feel about the city.
Indeed, unlike the kind of brand advertising created for a product, this campaign was never designed to sell anything, but to communicate a feeling about the city by its people. And if people feel more positive about a city or an area, they will be more ready to help improve it.
Such campaigns are developed as part of a branding process used to whip up feelings about a place. These so-called “place branding” efforts can gather communities around whichever ideas matter most to these people, whether they are social, economic, or even environmental.
Developing a place brand can be complex and challenging, but also immensely rewarding. It can involve government, companies and society in general. It can include events, ideas and investments focused on winning over visitors, residents and investors – all to help social community and local businesses thrive and grow.
People Make Glasgow is an example of a flexible place brand that can be associated with a wide range of assets and activities. But this kind of brand doesn’t have to convey a straight, positive message about an area, town or city, it can also be connected to specific challenges.