The Rhode Island Branding Disaster

Citizens, marketers and more have a lot to say about the Rhode Island branding disaster.


Rhode Island Branding DisasterSocial media, newspapers and websites have been hosting a range of opinion on the new Rhode Island branding. Designed by Milton Glaser, who created the iconic “I Heart New York”, the logo is part of an almost $5m marketing campaign which includes a new website aimed at attracting visitors and their custom to the Ocean State.

The logo, which depicts a sail against three colours is simple and evokes an almost old-fashioned design sensibility, as well as a “sense of the sea and sailing and the sunny sky and climate.”

The state was criticised for outsourcing the logo design and marketing campaign to New York-based agencies. Whilst the design has its critics, it’s the new slogan which has attracted the most derision.

The “Cooler & Warmer” wording was criticised. “It violates a fundamental rule of marketing, which is if you want people to think your brand is cool, don’t say your brand is cool,” said ad agency Nail‘s creative partner Alec Beckett. Social media was quick to respond with hastily-Photoshopped alterations of the new logo, with slogans such as “Dumb & Dumber”, and “Mobsters & Lobsters”.

Within days, the slogan had been dropped, and the Chief Marketing Offer had resigned. State Governor Gina M. Raimondo called the work “sloppy”, and acknowledged the fact that “[they] didn’t do nearly enough public engagement before rolling out the campaign.” Further embarrassment was caused when it transpired that an accompanying campaign video featured a scene filmed in Iceland and restaurants in Massachusetts appeared in the website.

Whilst any new logo, slogan or marketing campaign launch is vulnerable to criticism, this particular case is an embarrassing example of what happens when many critical factors are overlooked. Campaign managers, designers and clients have a lot to learn from the Rhode Island branding disaster.

A New Rhode Island Slogan Encounters Social Media’s Wrath [via The New York Times]

Designers Weigh in on Rhode Island’s New Logo [via The Washington Times]

Oliver Connor

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