Many icons of London

O that I were yet a grad student, for surely this would be my thesis.

London, my beloved bittersweet mistress of a second-city, has an identity crisis, and has put out the call to the design firms of Britain (and to a lesser degree, the world), to redesign the brand identity for London. While a bit of visual goodness is always appreciated, the main objective in this endeavor is to unify the many purpose-build identities used in London for tourism, transport, the 2012 Olympics, and a host of other departments and activities.

London's many identities
London’s many identities, courtesy of Brand New

I should have written about this last month when I spotted a post on Logo Design Love, but somehow I didn’t get to it. Anyway, The official assignment is elaborated on over at Brand Republic. In short, the call for work is unpaid, and you must contact the folks running the scheme to get your name in the ring. For anyone reading this blog post, you’re probably too late, as the closing will be 3 Sept.

But I think that I will turn this in a Design For Fun post here on Having lived in Britain, and fallen in love with Lady London, this could be a great chance to geek out with cultural identity-based design, and a challenge in modern branding on how to tie all those seemingly unrelated elements together.

Outside of the official tender, there are a number of possible solutions being discussed on the site A Brand For London. Definitely some sharp insight into typography, iconography, design history, and the “brand DNA” of London. But didn’t Rian Hughes already put together a logo for London a few years ago? Yes, he did, and the powers that be told him “thanks, but no thanks.” (in the British equivalent of a Sarah Palin accent, no doubt.)

Rian Hughes's London logo
Hughes’s Rejected Logo for London

So everyone bust out the sketchbook and let’s find a way to unify London behind some sort of a logo or graphic identity. I hope to find some time in the next few days to post my entry.

And let us not forget that immortal quotation about The Big Smoke:

“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson