We love New York City, a fresh face thanks to design

On March 23, 2023, the city of New York unveiled the We ❤️ NYC (We love New York City) campaign as a way to celebrate post-pandemic life. The announcement was welcomed by positive and negative feedback from New Yorkers, especially graphic designers.

It’s unsurprising since New York already had an iconic logo representing it since the 70s. But the fact of the matter is, the new one isn’t meant to replace the original. 

So why all the fuss? 

Because when a rebrand or redesign is announced to the public, people react. Soon enough, both logos will coexist as intended, and the announcement will be anecdotal.

In the meantime, let’s delve into the reasoning behind the campaign and what it aims to achieve with the new logo. We’ll examine how illustrative icons form part of the design and why they’re memorable.

In both logos, the heart is the main element. The heart as a graphic icon is one of the most emblematic, as it carries a lot of human and historical significance. Who hasn’t doodled a heart in a notebook or ended an email with a farewell heart? The red heart is a beat of life, of love, of passion, and is perfect for designs that convey those feelings. Discover red hearts and much more in the largest collection of icons within Freepik.

We love New York City

The We ❤️ NYC campaign

The We ❤️ NYC logo was inspired by the already iconic I ❤️ NY logo and isn’t meant to replace it but exist alongside it. The design and marketing team used Milton Glaser’s version as a base to create a new design, not a rebrand

The logo for the campaign uses a font based on the NYC subway typography, a Helvetica style lettering that’s easy to recognize. The team chose this font because the subway in NYC is where you’ll find people from every social strata, all just getting around from one place to another. 

With this font and a 3D emoji-style heart, the logo aims to transmit a sense of positivity to counteract the negative feelings that the pandemic brought to the communities across the five boroughs. It also aims to foster inclusivity by using “We” in the phrase.

The campaign as a whole is much more than the logo with the heart. In a promotional animated GIF, the heart beats and switches out for several iconic NYC illustrations, from the Empire State Building to a hot pretzel cart.

Aside from the logo and the icons, there are posters and billboards with messages about how much New Yorkers love NYC and its unique characteristics. The We ❤️ NYC website and Instagram account are full of unique combinations like We 🚕 NYC for yellow taxis and We 💚 NYC for a special collaboration with the theater show, Wicked. 

Following this trend, the possibilities are endless and super fun! Not to mention perfectly aligned with the way people communicate with each other through visual icons, illustrations and emojis.

We love New York City

The original I ❤️ NY Logo

The original I ❤️ NY logo was created in 1977 by renowned designer Milton Glaser. It was part of an attempt to improve the outlook of New York State as a tourist destination. The legend goes that he scribbled the logo on the back of a napkin or envelope using a red crayon, expecting it to be a momentary thing, not suspecting the impact it would have on the city, its citizens and the future of New York.

Since then, the  I ❤️ NY logo has represented the state of New York and its citizens through hardship and growth. The logo, placed on a myriad of souvenir items, has made its way around the world. 

The logo is a true design icon and holds a special place in history. It’s easy to understand why people, especially New Yorkers and designers, would react vociferously to the new logo.

Why do rebrands cause commotion?

People generally don’t like change, especially when it’s about something that’s been around for a long time. Designers, in particular, are very vocal about rebrands and will share their opinions on whether the rebrand is good or bad.

A positive commotion occurred when Dunkin’ Donuts switched to Dunkin and Burger King went vintage for their new look. Then there was a negative uproar when American Airlines rebranded, and The Gap tried to change its logo. This is simply part of the process of rebranding, and the only way it can be a failure is if it goes unnoticed.

Icons for brands and rebrands

Icons are a massive part of logos and branding treatments. The We ❤️ NYC logo is the perfect example. They not only used a heart but also numerous other NYC icons as part of the campaign. The key is to keep all icons consistent in style to build a cohesive brand that speaks for itself.

Are you rebranding or creating a brand from scratch? Freepik now offers all the Flaticon icons inside the assets library. Choose from millions of customizable vector icons to design the ideal brand or rebrand for your client or yourself.