Logo Design Love

For graphic designers and all who love logos.

Brand Colorado

Colorado State has unveiled a new logo. Here’s a look behind-the-scenes.

Colorado logo sketches

Colorado logo sketches

“Through a unique collaboration, two of Colorado’s most notable brand strategy firms — Egg Strategy and Sterling Rice Group — worked together to build the foundation that ultimately supports the new brand identity. An extensive exploratory of themes was developed and refined through additional interviews among people within Colorado, out of state and internationally.”

Quoted from the Brand Colorado website.

I’ve lifted a few of the preliminary design options (below) from this video.

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Colorado logo options

Ideas were narrowed down to two options.

This.

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

And this.

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

Colorado logo

A custom typeface was designed, too.

Neue Colorado

Neue Colorado

And here’s the official brand launch video (the chosen logo appears at 1:15).

“Like Colorado itself, our new logo combines the familiar with the unexpected. It draws clear influence from our world-famous mountains and beloved license plate. But its shape, an upward facing arrow with rounded corners, also serves as a symbol of Colorado’s momentum and a reminder of its friendly and approachable attitude.”

The design’s coming in for some stick, and that’s unsurprising — not because of the design, but because it’s the launch of a “logo” (just one small part of the identity). People see this single symbol, then they see the money involved (inevitably commented on), and they think, “It cost how much? I could’ve done better for a fraction of that.”

Brand Colorado. Via The Branding Source.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

17 appreciated comments

  1. While certainly better than CO with a line over it, I find the final logo to be underwhelming. I think the ones incorporating the C from the state flag would have been both more interesting and a far better “branding” choice since it would link the established iconography of the flag and the logo together.

    The part I really don’t get is this statement:
    “Like Colorado itself, our new logo combines the familiar with the unexpected.”

    Really?

    It’s a mountain, which is not only not unexpected, but the biggest cliche in the state, coupled with a CO. What exactly is “unexpected” here?

  2. Hmmm. I like the end result … I think it captures their known iconography well. It’s also a little weird (much like the people from the lovely state). Colorado owns that green and I think the brand application will be flexible and effective.

    That said …

    The video of the ‘making of’ really made me cringe … the ‘pitch’ highlights, the post-it wall, the shots of intrigued young professionals framed in thoughtful consideration of a concept, the reality TV-like vote … The entire thing made me think of Michael Bierut’s article: http://observatory.designobserver.com/entry.html?entry=3347

    The B-concept (the CO with the bar) really didn’t do anything for me at all. If the iconography of Colorado was vitally important (and I think that it was a wise focus and perhaps the reason that final concept was ‘sold’ … as we might say) than that bar concept was just … off. Perhaps it was an intended contrast of a flat, solid shape to be in constant juxtaposition to the towering mountain peaks … I dunno. It just makes Colorado feel like Kansas … or maybe a chemical company (colors are too primary in my opinion).

    Hope that’s not overly critical. The end result works and was a good investment for the state. The path to get there … rather awkward and confusing.

  3. Saliem

    I think it’s a great design. It cements my perception of Colorado and makes me want to visit it all the more. The cost did surprise me though.

  4. Jeff A.

    This guy took it and made it better with just a small tweak. It at least doesn’t look like a road sign.

    http://andymooredesign.com/colorado-brand

  5. Don

    I like it. Most logos for ‘places’ (like countries, etc.) seem to be very swooshy & colourful, but this one is very solid & understated.

  6. Dave

    Out of all of those they seriously chose a traffic sign that looks kinda like a mountain and a CO with a line above it over everything else?

    The logo is underwhelming at best, and copyright infringement at worst. Take a look at Sugarloaf Ski Resort’s logo, which has been around for as long as I can remember. Definitely grounds for suspicion there.

  7. Well, its very safe.

    I can understand why they went the way they did. But it looks kind of dated.

    Actually, looking at the direction design is going with “flat” design becoming more popular, I guess its very vogue right now.

    I can’t really complain though, I’d have been disappointed in almost anything they’d have picked, unless it was something really stylish and almost offensive. And at that point, no one would have liked it but me. So I must concede to the majority.

    *A note, I’m a Coloradoan. I’d like to say this makes me bias on this design, but I question if it does.

  8. Sheryl

    I like the tweak mentioned by Jeff A. I’ve got to wonder, though, what in the world was the thinking behind Option B. Seriously? THAT was the second best option? A dash?

  9. I like it for the most part. A lot of people say the flag was more recognizable and they should have gone with something like that. Honestly, I didn’t have any idea what their flag looked like before this and I do see they were testing options in a similar vein.
    Just like any new logo/branding that comes out, people will hate it. Many people will hate it, because it’s not what they thought it should be. Just the way things go I guess.
    But, as people have mentioned the sugarloaf thing, that is terribly close! I like the alternate change that someone mentioned above, making it more mountain shape rather than just a triangle.
    Despite any of it, I’d like to go to CO regardless of what they had chosen.

  10. I think that they did all right with this design, especially with the evolution of it. Personally, I think that some of the early designs shown on here would have held more brand power, but they did seem a little dated. When it comes to the flat CO, it really doesn’t seem to fit with Colorado at all. I like the final design, but agree with some of the other commenters that they might have done better with a mountain instead of a straight triangle.

    Either way, it’s much better than the Pure Michigan logo of my home state.

  11. Mat

    The CO with the line above it would have been great because of the COLORS!
    The incorporation of the flag colors makes all the difference. The colors are bright, distinctive, and representative of all the great things we love about this state.
    The green triangle is boring. I don’t care if people from out of state recognize the license plate, we should be showing what’s great about our home, not catering to what people who don’t know anything about us think they know about us.

  12. Tom

    This is what happens when too many people are on the project and everyone has an opinion.

  13. I like this logo. I believe it’s very well executed. Yes it’s simple and other designers probably could’ve created this with ease and (like you quoted) a fraction of the price. But the bottom line is that brand indentity is meant to be simple, yet effective and meaningful – and this logo is just that.

  14. Tom has something there… but then, so does Jamie. A whole BUNCH of people with different backgrounds and modus operandis worked on this.

    BUT – this wasn’t just ANY type of logo production. This was going to be a visual device that served several purposes simultaneously. Two obvious questions were brought forth during the gestational phases of Colorado’s new logo campaign: WHO is going to see this logo, and on what/where will this logo be seen?

    This was a HUGE task to achieve successfully actually, as the logo had to be concurrent and seen on TONS of devices and signs… So versatility was totally key here. People who had no experience what-so-ever with logo design had to weigh in here. Regardless, the end result was – despite the naysayer’s uneducated and tastelessly vapid knocks of it – actually a really great logo.

    Quick, contemporary, modern, right to the point, and most of all – Versatile. Which is what a logo that carries so many responsibilities and weight SHOULD be.

  15. Steve T.

    Governor, There is a Mr. Monoxide on the phone. Something about a trademark infringement? Says he sent you a link….

    http://isas.hu/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/CO-decal.gif

  16. Aaron Easler

    It’s not exactly surprising that a government would dump over a million dollars into something uninspired and trite.

  17. Steve T.

    They manipulated the research to avoid using the flag as part of the logo. This, because Governor Hickenlooper may run for President and wants to distance himself from the marijuana industry. The flag is public property and cannot be trademarked. The green triangle can and is trademarked — and will not be available to this “federally-illegal” industry. They don’t really care that people from Colorado can’t stand the new logo because the real audience is people outside of Colorado — who don’t mind it. This could have had tremendous value in terms of a buy-local campaign. Now it has seriously upset residents and the Denver Post who feel excluding the flag ignores our heritage. The Governor (a non-native) has made a bad move with this decision. Now the whole thing will probably die instead of be corrected as that will only highlight how much money he has wasted under false pretenses. That’s the real story, folks.


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