NYC & Company – the official tourism and marketing organisation for New York – has a launched a new visual identity, with custom typefaces, 250 icons and an updated website with over 100 pieces of video content.
The branding was designed in-house by a creative team made up of 22 designers, art directors, photographers, copywriters and videographers. It features two custom typefaces: NYC Sans, based on Massimo Vignelli’s 1972 MTA branding and City Block, based on the geometry of the NYC logotype. NYC Sans features several alternates, including four Ms and four Ys, and Lessard says alternative characters will be used at random or for particular types of communications (a ‘friendly’ Y, for example, will be used in communications aimed at families).
A colour palette combines black with bolder shades inspired by local landmarks. “Our primary colour is black, but we never use just black – we follow the Josef Albers colour theory, so we use it as an activator to make bright colours even brighter,” explains Creative director Emily Lessard. The second colour is taxi cab yellow and the third, Bowie purple – there’s also Staten Island Ferry orange and two greens inspired by the Statue of Liberty, which can appear different shades in different light. A custom set of patterns based on half tone textures, Andy Warhol silkscreens and the bright lights of Broadway add depth and a sense of movement to communications. “We want to make sure everything is very layered,” says Lessard.
Central to the new branding is a new set of icons created in partnership with various government agencies, which aim to provide a visual guide to the city. (Lessard says she was keen to create a system that would be useful for visitors who aren’t fluent in English). 250 symbols have been created so far, from icons representing government buildings, transport, hospitals and sports facilities to others in the shape of famous landmarks.
Lessard says the identity aims to reflect New York’s vibrancy and diversity. It’s a challenging task – the city is home to five boroughs, each with their own distinct identity, and eight million residents – but the mix of bold colours, quirky letters, video and photography aim to capture the chaotic and constantly changing nature of the city. “There’s definitely an authenticity that we strive to hit,” she adds. “It’s one of those things that’s incredibly hard to describe, but you know when you have it, and you know when you don’t. I see it coming through in things like our colour palette – we really looked at the colours of the city,” she adds.