The City Of Raleigh's New Logo

Who’s excited? ...*awkward throat clear*

Raleigh finally has a logo that can be consistently used throughout the city. Until now the city has mostly used the Raleigh Seal as an unofficial brand. With this new logo, we make our first foray into the land of the branded elite. Pinch me.

 The new Raleigh logo... yippee. Looks kind of like an artichoke.

The new Raleigh logo... yippee. Looks kind of like an artichoke.

 The old Raleigh "logo". Really, it's just the city seal. Looks kind of like a broccoli.

The old Raleigh "logo". Really, it's just the city seal. Looks kind of like a broccoli.

The specs:

Raleigh hired Oklahoma-based consultant Cubic for $83,000 to talk to residents and conduct research about the perception of the city. The Assembly, a Raleigh Design Firm, was hired for $143,000 to create the new brand based on Cubic's research. All told this endeavor cost the city $226,000. For you locals, this is an amount which roughly equates to about 25,000 Uber rides from downtown Raleigh to Cook Out on Western Boulevard.

Let’s dig in.

The Minimalist Approach

It’s no doubt that this logo is taking a step in the right direction. Over the past 10 years Raleigh has grown a tremendous amount. The Raleigh metro area has become an urban epicenter where families, businesses, and culture can prosper. With this growth was the need for an up to date and urban looking logo. The Assembly dropped the old-school garland, updated the oak tree to reflect organic and tech sensibilities, and picked a new trendy font for the city. In addition to this logo which will now be used in a variety of ways throughout the city, The Assembly presented two fonts, a Raleigh Mission Statement, and a Vision Statement - all of which were immediately approved by the city council.

Food for Thought

As a local here in Raleigh, I am overjoyed that the city will finally have something in the way of a consistent brand. However, I have some questions and thoughts on this - especially considering that I am a business owner and designer in this city.

If you are from Raleigh, then you probably know that there is a wealth of talent when it comes to design firms, freelancers, and artists. When I look at this logo I want to feel that it is authentic to Raleigh. And above everything else, I want to feel it is both unique and an accurate representation of the city that I am proud of. I can’t say that I’m too enthused about the new direction. (Author’s note: I can’t say that I ever really expect the city government to hit a homerun on anything in terms of art & aesthetics - it seems like there might be a broader issue here of a shortage of design/creative sensibility through the Raleigh city government. However, I think that’s a blog post for another day.)

I’m having a hard time connecting this new brand identity to the city I know and love, mainly because there isn’t enough (if any) content or context to back this new logo up. With this new logo, I see a graphic that could be the logo for almost any city I can think of. What about this design truly speaks to the individuality of Raleigh? Currently, what I seem to be hearing the most is that this logo is reminiscent of an artichoke. Does this make us Artich-Oak City?

Regardless of my personal reservations about this new graphic, the City of Raleigh needs to get to work contextualizing what this logo means to the city’s residents. This is an opportunity for the city to explore how it can connect a fresh brand to the wide range of human beings that make up Raleigh’s population. This kind of culture-cohesion endeavor is something that I've seen Raleigh struggle with - it's a difficult task even for a city with great creative strategist at the helm. Hopefully the city can use this opportunity to envelop the larger story of Raleigh into a marketing effort centered around this new identity.

Does this logo hit the mark for you?

At the end of the day, it isn’t a logo that makes a city's brand. A large part of what defines a city’s brand is the collective story told by the people who live in the city. At the very least, I look forward to seeing some consistency in design throughout Raleigh, which (at long last) this logo will finally provide.