London

A few weeks ago, I commented on the search for London’s new identity. In brief, the City asked design firms to pitch for a unifying brand identity and graphic toolkit with which all public services and departments can rally behind. The controversy had to do with how firms were asked to submit creative ideas without compensation — free pitching, if you will.

So all these months later, the deadline has passed and we’re still without a new identity. We are, however, provided with some whispering within the industry about what a mess this project is becoming.

A post today on the Johnson Banks blog paints the picture. It seems that the tournament of selection is winding down, and now the pool of 56 entrants is down to two. Conran & Partners, and possibly Dragon Rouge.

Several of our sources and one Deep Throat who refuses to be named report that the final presentation of the three pronged strategy and design options went badly. So badly that the steering group (on sight of their options) collectively asked ‘why are we doing this?’ to the marketing project leader, at which point [Mayor Boris Johnson] also asked ‘why are we doing this?’ Not good.

I, for fun, have tackled this project, but alas, my solution isn’t quite ready for prime time. Still needs some typographic love, after my having spent hours upon hours re-tooling half the Gill Sans character set. But to give you all a taste, here’s a few mock posters that demonstrate the style and identity and that. What do you think?

London's new identity

London's new identity

London's new identity

London's new identity

There has been some rather public backlash, though. The Partners have written a rather scathing review of the venture, and Michael Wolff, British design/branding legend, has come out against the notion of “branding cities” in general. Both are well-formed arguments.