If you’re a millennial you won’t remember a time when New York was anything other than a mecca for creatives, wanderers, culture and largescale corporate business.
But prior to 1978, New York was an entirely different city: close to financial disaster, riddled with crime, addiction, and disrepair. Much to the chagrin of New York’s tourism officials, outside advertisers were taking advantage of the dire situation.
There were employee strikes, the Son of Sam spree – which drew New York into the spotlight for all of the wrong reasons – and guides created to keep people safe when they visited (which in reality did less to provide safety and more to fear monger).
All of these events led to a massive decrease in tourism, which of course did not help their financial strain. As New York continued down this forlorn path, the state began searching for a way to revive tourism and rebrand New York City’s image, not only to the city’s inhabitants, but to the world.
Enter Wells Rich Green (WRG), an advertising agency with its own rich history, and a portfolio of impressive clientele. Along with Milton Glaser, a well-known graphic designer, WRG set about to meet their mission and a campaign was born.
A campaign that is arguably still one of the best-known campaigns today.
This familiar logo, paired with an aggressive schedule of TV ads that ran for five weeks in 12 different markets across the U.S. and Canada, had immediate results.
There was a flurry of requests (approximately 93,880) for travel brochures, hotel occupancy sky rocketed and earnings from travel activity increased by almost 20%.
The logo itself found its way onto souvenirs and memorabilia, the campaign snowballed into the airline industry and the budget for the following year needed to be more than doubled.
Most importantly, it inspired New Yorkers to once again take pride in their city.
Needless to say, after this successful first year, the I Love New York campaign and its logo was here to stay.
I (Still) Love New York
Almost 40 years later, I would argue that the I Love New York brand is still one of the most recognizable brands on the market, even if many of us don’t know its origins. I would hazard to guess that not many people travel to New York without purchasing something with that unforgettable heart on it.
But what makes this brand so successful? I talked to one of our designers to find out why this brand has withstood the test of time:
For one, its timeless, yet classic. It won’t ever go out of style.
From a design standpoint, the logo is symmetrical and structurally even, making it aesthetically pleasing to the eye. There have only been small tweaks to aesthetic and design over the years, with the core of the logo remaining the same.
The simplicity, clean typography and bright pop of colour allow for impeccable and flawless reproduction on an endless variety of merchandise and advertising. The I Love New York brand has even gone so far as to build seasonal logos and variations to be used for any merchandise or reason under the sun.
Its simplicity also makes it highly recognizable, and easily replicated – and when they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they are not wrong. Whenever I see the “I” followed by any heart symbol, I immediately think of New York, and I’m sure I am not the only one. This association of a replication of the logo to the original indicates incredible strength of brand recognition that has spanned generations.
While some may struggle to see the value of a marketing campaign, I think New York would argue that the right campaign at the right time is invaluable.
What do you think about this classic New York logo and campaign?
Let us know in the comments below!