Failure to launch: What do the experts say about North Carolina’s new branding campaign? | Triangulator | Indy Week

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Failure to launch: What do the experts say about North Carolina’s new branding campaign?

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So perhaps you've heard by now that North Carolina has a brand-new slogan ("Nothing Compares") and logo, courtesy of the McCrory administration, which shelled out almost $450,000 to a Charlotte advertising agency called Luquire George Andrews. And after spending what had to be a stressful afternoon sketching on a bar napkin, Luquire gave us ... this:

nc-logo-combined.jpg

The logo, which will replace logos used by myriad state agencies, first started popping up on highway billboards this summer, and then all state employees got a new-logo lapel pin as an annual appreciation gift. (We're sure they were thrilled.) There's also a new website and 90-second video replete with images of beaches and mountains atop a soft piano and a warm voiceover ("How far can you see from a mountaintop? Or across the ocean?" And so on).

We found the whole thing, well, underwhelming, but this is not our area of expertise. We do, however, happen to know a bunch of graphic artists, so we decided to get their take. (Anonymously, of course.)

Here's a sampling of their reactions:

"This is the kind of work that makes me sad. We live in a very diverse, forward-moving state, and yet this feels like it was created and approved by a committee. It's amazing to me that [the state] would say 'Nothing Compares' and then put it in an incredibly generic context."

"The latest rebranding effort by North Carolina seems like a rough draft. There are too many graphical pieces (the tree, the mountain, the sea) and [it's] missing a cohesive concept to bring them together into a simple design. ... As for the phrase 'Nothing Compares,' it's thoughtful and provocative, especially with the connection to the Mountains to the Sea as a unique landscape. As well, the connection to the acronym is interesting, but it's just not visually represented very well in the logo with the busy nature of the rest of the branding. ... Nothing Compares to Simplicity." 

"If we are to seriously consider this video, it must be critiqued as the propaganda it plainly is. The video communicates that if you are reasonably wealthy, you can claim '[the view] from the windows of an executive suite,' the pleasures of water sports, and the beautiful pottery from Seagrove. This is a political vehicle meant to broadcast a political agenda: 'Come on in, the water's fine!' whitewashing the fact that for so many North Carolinians, the water is swarming with sharks aggressively and systematically tearing limbs from our education system, social services, environmental and public programs. The depictions of African-Americans are: a man reviewing paperwork, a street busker and an African-American man and child looking at a caged African animal. ... The 'Nothing Compares' tagline is likewise sourced from a bin of stock phrases generic enough to apply to any state, town or dry cleaning establishment. It has, in fact, previously been used by a ski resort in Australia, a tourism campaign for Egypt and a Cuban rum. The only gift here might be the taunting invitation for citizens to respond with 'Nothing compares to ...' riffs."

Look on the bright side:

new-fuquay-logo.jpg

At least the state did better than Fuquay-Varina, which also rolled out a new, $95,000 logo and motto ("a dash more," seriously) last week. Have a gander:

We'd be happier if they'd just gone with "Home of Aviator."

Reach the INDY's Triangulator team at triangulator@indyweek.com.

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