Colorado Unveils Official State Brand and Slogan

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One year ago today, Colorado launched what they call the most inclusive, collaborative and ambitious branding effort ever undertaken by a state. Rather than hiring an outside company to define who we are, the state tapped into the creative talent of our own people (like that part), to build a brand for Colorado, by Colorado. Today, they unveiled that brand, comprised of a logo designed by Evan Hecox — dubbed the “Peak” — a slogan, “It’s Our Nature,” along with other marketing elements.

The logo and slogan represent the state's world-famous mountains as well as Colorado's continued ascension in any number of categories, from business and innovation to agriculture and health. They were selected based on survey responses from thousands of people here, nationally and internationally.

This logo will not replace the Colorado flag, which is a source of pride for many in our state. While the flag is “public domain” — meaning it can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere — the new logo is a registered trademark that cannot be used without express permission from the state.

“We have a state flag and seal, but until now Colorado has never had a unified brand,” said Aaron Kennedy, chief marketing officer for the State of Colorado. “This brand will not only help Colorado attract talent and jobs, but also save public dollars by eliminating the need to manage individual brands for each agency and department in state government.”

The brand will be used on all state vehicles and agencies and can also be attached to the products of companies that design, manufacture or grow things in the state, in order to make people outside Colorado think positively about the culture here. From now through July 2014, all 22 Colorado state agencies will transition to the new brand.

There's plenty to ponder here, including the effect one little logo is being counted on to have — attracting talent and driving jobs? Hmm. In addition, DBJ reports that the year-long search for a brand cost state officials some $1.1 million and will culminate in $500,000 in additional spending of general-fund tax revenues to conduct a public education and brand-rollout to let Coloradans know about the new brand. Hmm. Hmm.

What say you people about brandCOLORADO? It's meant to represent you. Additional rundown on things can be found here.


You people watch too much Breaking Bad.

There's bad and there's embarrassing. This falls somewhere beneath embarrassing around the tragically comedic mark. People are gonna have a good laugh at this one and they should. It's just too bad the joke is on such a beloved state.

How they can possibly try to justify this with focus groups speaks volumes about how out of touch the state government must be with the citizens of this state.

We deserve better than this and we deserve better than having money taken out of state coffers to pay for this complete and total garbage. The people of Colorado didn't ask to be 'branded'. And even if they had they would have expected something classier than this drivel.

To say that this logo will be hated is an understatement. It's enough to question Hickenlooper's judgment and maybe he'll realize how out of touch he is when people fail to show up for him next time at the polls. Try defending your use of money and resources with that focus group Governor.

Looks like they took the Sugarloaf logo turned it green and switch out the name etc....

I remember learning that a green triangle was apart of the identification system in concentration camps... I do realize that it's a mountain, but it's still a triangle and It's completely embarrassing how that could have been overlooked on this whole project. You would think with as much money that's going into this that they might have done some better research. Very embarrassing for Colorado and design.

Trite. Seriously unfortunate and those in charge need to rethink this and pull it back. The disconnect between how this mark represents our beautiful state is too great. And this is a perfect example of designing something for designs's sake instead of designing for the problem.

Everyone involved in this process obviously got caught up in "something different" instead of what is best for the state or they just dialed this in and it inexplicably gained momentum.

Uninspiring. The greatness of our state reduced to a street sign that communicates "CO"

In my opinion, coordinating the branding across all these city entities is a great idea – especially when they spend $300k each year fiddling with brand stuff. What seems odd here is how big a deal they made out of this assignment – hiring all these creatives, making them do a massive amount of work (see Berger Fohr's breakdown), getting the public in on the voting, spending a ton of money, and making huge promises about the effect the new branding will have — when in reality, all it really ends up being is a mountain peak on the side of a truck. With this buildup, people were expecting something awe-inspiring that perfectly wraps up this amazing place. That's not what we got.

$1.6 million dollars for a green "Caution Sign" with the state abbreviation on it!!!! Shit not only is it amaturish but probably about $1.5 million over budget for this POS. All it contributes is "caution our state is not grown up, don't spend your business money here!" And... since when is a brand a slogan and logo instead of something more encompassing and inclusive? The 20%+ that thought this was awesome was probably looking for a dispensary and thought this was more "green". Completely underwhelmed

It feels clipart-ish. Green does give us cues to the original green CO license plates. The old "C" mark had equity. This feels more like something a student would do in design school. It makes our state all about the mountains when there's so much more. My guess, and this is only a guess, whomever made this has a beard.

^^ "Everyone involved in this process obviously got caught up in something different instead of what is best for the state or they just dialed this in and it inexplicably gained momentum." - not everyone involved, just the ones running the show - Made.

This whole 'collaborative' process wreaks of Victors and Spoils connections. They find 12 talented designers, give them about a week or two to each come up with and idea, they choose 3 of these ideas to move forward and run with to do their 'extensive research'.

The 'collaborative team' still seemed to be under the impression this was a first round submission and the process would be ongoing, but there was little further involvement with the 'team', just Made and the apparently out-of-touch focus groups they created to test these three designs that they so haphazardly chose. Made's translation of the designer's concepts didn't help, which seemed to remove most of the work that show the logo in context, which of course makes it incredibly difficult for the general public to decipher what they are looking at without context. (hmm, and they happened to pick the one that doesn't really work in context)

Where did all the money and resources go? Throwing expensive parties for focus groups? Making videos and websites to convince the public?

It is shameful for this to represent our state. And it's shameful how Made has disrespected and misrepresented the design process and exploited the designers by involving them in their supposed 'process'.

Hmm. So this is what impotence feels like.

Berger Fohr's breakdown --- same goes for that. Just because you put a lot of work into something does not make it good. Or, even applicable to the subject matter instead of way off the mark.

If this is the result of a year of collaboration, we should have just given the job to one person. It looks like some weird warning sign. It's Our Nature is ok as a slogan, if we want to reduce the entire state to being only about nature. Pretty sure we have more to offer than mountains and trees though.

^^ but dont you get it... the slogan will "help Colorado attract talent and jobs" so its not about nature its about nature is about jobs. We're just talking about nature... and jobs. Hahaha

This thread is about to blow up....

I think it's OKAY nothing spectacular but not terrible.

That said - I think there was too much hype around the whole thing, and maybe too many cooks in the kitchen. I know a lot of work went into this, but the way the whole project was executed lead people to have high expectations which is always going to lead to disappointment.

Looking forward to when Armin Vit hears about this!

If it smells like a turd and looks like a turd...

Just think how good this thread would have been if factory had been involved...

From the brandColorado site. "A brand that embodies our state’s upward momentum will help Colorado attract top talent, quality companies and jobs. The new state brand will save state agencies significant dollars each year by reducing design and marketing expenses. CDOT has estimated it will save $300,000 each year in graphic design fees alone. Multiply even a fraction of that number by 22 state agencies, and you can see how the new brand will save the state money."

Not buying that at all.. typical government though process going on here. And why in the world would CDOT need to spend $300K per year on graphic design?

The graphs are fake, the research is fake. The logo sucks. Rather than paying attention to what the public really feels, they egotistically stuck to their guns and waisted tax payer money.

This is what happens when you have people who have not lived in COlorado their whole lived try and redesign something that didn't need it in the first place.. Im looking at you Made.

well and to add to that the Made apples don't fall from the Bogusky tree.

You guys are hilarious. Did someone drop all the AgencySpy commenters here?

The logo is actually good.

It's simple. Clean. Immediately identifiable as Colorado. The mountain, while obvious, represents the state well. And the design will be really hard for know-nothing state officials to misuse.

The tag line is another story...

It's immediately identifiable as Colorado by the "Colorado" type underneath the logo, not because of visual communication. Sure it's not going to be confused with Chicago, but does nothing to differentiate between California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, or Peru.

Barf. WTF!

AgencySpy commenters? This poll shows clearly the people of Colorado don't like this logo:

CO COLORADO... Re Really?

^^^ YES. The CO COLORADO thing bugs the shit out of me.

Why did they get a painter/illustrator on this team to design a logo...

One of the first things you learn as a designer is to think beyond the literal and push yourself to create a concept with deeper meaning. This obviously didn't happen.

I'm offended that the 'best creative minds in Colorado' couldn't even bother to create a concept that speaks to the diversity of this state and instead succumbed to the most obvious literal translation of Colorado that exists - mountains. Colorado seems to think that they are the only state with mountains and therefore, has a monopoly on mountain imagery.

Not only does this logo not stand out from the thousands of others who utilize similar imagery, it's boring and reinforces the stereotype that all Colorado has going for it, is it's mountains.

Well done on stating the obvious.

Stephanie I would LOVE to see your take on this. Go ahead and post a link to your concept as you seem to know what it takes to be a REAL designer.

Really, Colorado has mountains? I would have never known if this logo hadn't come along.

I'm not a native Coloradan, but I think I could have thought further through than mountains and an upward facing arrow. Even having the mountains incorporated somehow is understandable, but I feel like it misrepresents the state. I thought Denver was in the mountains before I moved here, and so did everyone else I talked to from out of state.

I'm all for minimalism and ease of use, but sometimes it's too stripped down.

Do I need to post all of my concepts now too?

don't really think that she needs to have a concept to point out the flaws of this one. that is of course unless she was on the team tasked to provide a direction

keep it coming please!

I actually like it. Based on these comments here I am the minority, but regardless I like it, and eventually you will to :)

I like the mark. I've only lived in this great state since 1998 so I'm not a native but I think this simple mark is clear and concise. Well done. If you wanna see embarrassing check out Indiana's license plates in '82-'83, also '85, and '95-98.

Lastly, It's nice to know that anonymous comments really do bring out the worst in humanity. Have a nice day.

Go anywhere in America and ask them to name a state with mountains. 9 out of 10 will start with Colorado. Denver is known as the Mile High City. Your hockey team is the Avalanche. Beyond Denver, your most famous cities are known for... ski mountains. It's the single most identifiable trait your state has. That's your state identity whether you like it or not.

And you all want to walk away from that?

The logo "reinforces the stereotype that all Colorado has going for it, is it's mountains."? So somehow the logo is supposed to convey every last thing to do in Colorado? You sound like a bad client that wants to squeeze in every last feature into a print ad.

Simple. Clean. Identifiable. All hallmarks of a good logo.

Guys, I think I have a solution.

it's a pot leaf! Get it.

oh cool! A green triangle with CO in it!

so, was this V1?

Do a Google Image search for "Carbon Monoxide Warning"
or just click this...
or, if you are lazy... Just look.

CO... OH NO!

Quote the opposite of fresh mountain air. The irony is delicious.


Yeah, I know all the time I get a bright red triangle with a skull and cross bones in it and the word DANGER! underneath mixed up with a green triangle that looks like a mountain and says COLORADO next to it.

@Anonymous: Ruthless!
@Anonymous: Good point.

Have you ever noticed the Xerox logo looks like a Bocce ball? Hmmm.

John, yes we got it. Nudge nudge nudge. You know what I mean.

I could only begin to imagine the task set forth by the committee to create an identity for the state of Colorado.

After reviewing all the marks presented not so long ago, I was left with the notion that this process practiced what we see in agencies today – having individuals scramble to their corners and chisel away at what "could" be. Without a doubt we saw great, thoughtful results. When there are options, there is choice. Which suit you choose to wear depends on your style.

Only in a beautiful world would we have seen the efforts of a committee release one, I repeat, one identity system that encompasses a collaboratively driven result of what "should" be instead of "could" be. What that result "would" of been will never be known…

I'm so outraged about everything that I see all the time about the things that are in front of me. I could most certainly yell right now for all the reasons I have.

Designers can end up being the visual janitors of the communication world, mopping up the vomit created in a Word file with their magical monkey dust. But more often they are the people who see and think things others can't -- constantly exploring, questioning and inventing -- impacting our lives and our culture in dramatic and everyday ways.

If you're seeking respectful critiques and intelligent discourse about the value of design and branding, consider participating in AIGA Colorado events. You can join with other designers to broaden your thinking (or express your distaste) on topics that interest you. Or if you're not a designer, you can learn a little about the value of branding and design thinking and see how design is in everything we touch and interact with, from when we wake up to when we hit the pillow.

Heck, you might even learn that there's a condensed version of that typeface you just stretched.

loud noises!

All I keep reading is what is wrong with the logo. Out of 48 comments not one person has given any direction into what would represent Colorado better. Nobody.

^^^ We're the peons that weren't briefed on the campaign. Plus, I don't think everyone is bitching in here. Are we?

^^^ What do you need to be briefed on. Colorado... Logo/Slogan. Go.

If you go in the brandColordado site there is a great example someone mocked up that exceeds the current choice by ten fold. Show us what you would do better mentality is just crying out "hurt feelings". Some of the comments on here are stupid, some are accurate IMO but they all reflects critique/commentary on the current "brand". Even the Egotist's posting is asking for thoughts and comments not for our designs.

Also pretty sure that the prior fancy dinner meetings for the creative team consisted or just slightly more than.. Brand/logo ... Go

^^^ Whether through design or just constructive criticism, no one is offering anything better. That's all I was getting at.

The whole idea of this exercise is fundamentally screwed. We are trying to tell the world, "Come to Colorado! You can have the best of both worlds, the serenity of nature and the convenience and comfort of urban living and business!"
That idea only works when there aren't a lot of people here (since our culture ties escaping other people to the idea of escaping into the "quality of life" we hope for).
Otherwise we're basically LA. Too many people in a beautiful place. That's where this state is going, and this attempt to draw more people here is only speeding up the process. Is it any wonder that no one is happy with the result!
Oh wait, a few people are... the people who get the money.

'CO Colorado' is making me crazy. The logo is fairly generic and certainly not ownable. The line is interesting but it certainly doesn't say "colorado" to me. Disappointed that it took a year to get this....and I was so excited. Thanks Alex, go back to Miami.

looks a little familiar....

DSGNR. Stop while you're behind.

"Nobody's offered anything better." is not a defense of any idea we come up with in this industry.

In fact, it's a sophomoric thought process that, if we are honest with ourselves, we have all had when we started. I will admit to it. But, if we were lucky, we had a CD or someone who had more experience who sat us down and explained that who we are and the work we create are two separate things.

(Read the following as aimed at the universal you.)
If you take criticism of your work as criticism of who you are as a person, this business will eat you alive. Once you can disconnect yourself from the ideas you have and are able to look at them objectively, you will not only enjoy this business a whole lot more, but the quality of your work will jump to a whole different level.

^^^ You obviously just don't get it. There's has been no constructive criticism. Just a lot of, "This sucks" "WTF" etc. Criticism can be great, but the comments here are no different than YouTube comments from armchair designers all thinking they could have done better.

An op-ed in the Boulder Daily Camera about the logo. Somebody do something! This is just sad.

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