Maybe the new N.C. logo should have been a no-go

From an editorial Thursday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer:

The Old North State now has a new slogan and logo. It may also have – like someone with an unfortunate tattoo – regrets.

Gov. Pat McCrory and people at the Department of Commerce and UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School worked on the symbol for what they call “North Carolina’s brand.” They tested ideas through polling and focus groups and spent $1.5 million having an advertising agency come up with the design and tag line and marketing it on 75 billboards.

Despite all that, graphic designers are roundly panning the logo, and even the untrained eye can see that it strains to do too much, like a product designed by a committee. And to some despairing liberals in a state now run by conservatives, the logo evokes the image of a North Carolina denuded by developers with one lonely tree left standing.

The rest of the logo features a block “NC” that fades from green to blue (mountains to sea). The letters are set over a slogan that echoes the state’s initials, “Nothing Compares.” On the slogan’s left and right, squiggly lines symbolize the mountains and the sea. And, if you still don’t get it, beneath the slogan is “North Carolina.”

Commerce spokeswoman Kim Genardo said the logo has received “a lot of positive feedback” and she hasn’t directly heard a negative assessment. Indeed, she’s getting calls from people seeking apparel and refrigerator magnet with the “Nothing Compares” logo.

But on Brand New – a blog that covers brand identity and logos – the reviews are scathing. Armin Vit, who runs the blog and is co-founder of the graphic design firm UnderConsideration in Austin, Texas, said of North Carolina’s new symbol, “It’s one of the worst logos I’ve seen all year. It could be about anywhere. The rendering of the tree is not very good. The shape of the letters is remarkably bad. It’s a really unfortunately made logo.”

The state will phase in the new logo to save costs, but it could get expensive if voters elect a new brand of government that cans this logo for another. The potential cost of such a do-over is hard to calculate. Nothing compares.