On Monday, Cambridge City Council approved new branding for the city. The new logo, wordmark and tagline (shown at right) were almost three years in the making and came at a cost of $25,000.
Update: I forgot to include a link to the report to Council that supported the new branding: Cambridge Branding Report
The reaction on Twitter and Facebook was generally negative – and one local graphic designer took it upon himself to whip up a much improved version in a matter of minutes (shown below).
To say I was disappointed with the new branding is an understatement – I hate it. My list of reasons for disliking the branding so much grows by the hour, but here’s the note I sent to city council Tuesday night.
When I heard that the city had undertaken a “re-branding” exercise I was nervous but hopeful. Mostly I was excited for something fresh and new that would capture the vibrancy of the Cambridge that I love.
Imagine my disappointment when I saw the article about the new logo in the Record yesterday. I am not a graphic designer nor an “identity expert” but I am a marketing and PR professional who understands the power of branding. Please allow me to offer my two cents on the matter.
- when I posted the image to Twitter, the first two responses I got were: “it’s a napkin ring!” and “it’s a mullet!” — not a strong start
- the image conveys nothing about Cambridge except that we have some water and a strange half-circle bridge (which we don’t)
- The bridge resembles nothing in Cambridge and due to its shape would be impossible to cross. Not a good message there.
- The water just about the only thing I like about this logo
- The tagline: I get the double meaning, but there’s a significant third meaning. It could be interpreted to mean: “Cambridge: It’s so-so here.” In other words, “all right” is often used to mean something less than great. Again, not a good message.
Contrast this to the image I’ve attached which was done in about twenty minutes (working from the proposed logo) by a Cambridge graphic artist (who understands the city).
- this bridge is instantly recognizable as “from Cambridge” though not “exactly” the Main Street bridge
- this bridge also conveys a feeling of forward motion – even “leapfrogging”
- the ribbon-like treatment of the bridge is lighter and seems to float on the page (the proposed logo seems much more like a paperweight)
- the two streams of water could be seen to represent the two major rivers (Grand and Speed)
I could go on…
While I support new branding for the city, I cannot support this logo.
I’ve heard back from a few councillors who have expressed second thoughts about approving the logo – they also indicated they much preferred the logo I sent them and that they would be forwarding it on to city staff. I’m not so naive to think that the City will simply walk away from their $25,000 logo, but at least they’re taking a second look at it.
A few more thoughts on the logo that have occurred to me since I wrote to council:
- the “little old bridge” feeling has a small hamlet feel to it the betrays Cambridge’s desire to be a “player”
- I just can’t stop seeing a dog with its tongue hanging out on a hot day
- the report keeps talking about “two rivers” yet the logo clearly only has one
- I don’t understand the emphasized R in Cambridge – it throws the whole word off-balance
- if you have to BOLD a word in your tagline to make sure it’s read correctly, you have the wrong tagline
Update 2: here are two stories that have appeared in the Record:
- Cambridge council to vote on new city logo
- Councillors don’t want former towns named in new Cambridge logo