Be Legendary! The New tagline for North Dakota was announced today from the Governor’s office of North Dakota. However, what is creating more buzz on social media is the logo mark that they rolled out.
I was literally having a conversation with my colleague just moments prior to my eyes were gorged with disgust and disappointment. I told him that North Dakota would never abandon their stylized logo mark and that its probably one of the most influential marks in the entire state. To hear that they changed the logo just floored me. I could not believe that this happened and that they even thought it was a great idea.
The press release really doesn’t give us a clear direction visually as to how they will be rolling this mark out. However, there is glimpses of it on Twitter and Facebook. So let me be clear. I am in complete disgust with the mark and not the message that supports it. I am eager to see how this unfolds, however, I’m not holding my breath on how it will inspire or be impactful. I think with the lack of elements to show the brand potential, I feel they need to provide a comprehensive case study to argue their findings and to provide rationale as to why they felt the need to change the mark. I haven’t found any references to who created it, but it doesn’t feel like an agency has their hand in it either. It appears that this was done within the Governor’s Office with Burgum breathing down a poor interns neck who doesn’t even have a design background. Did you see the press release video? He has this smirk on his face, like this was all his idea…Everyone, let’s give him the praise and bow down to his intelligence. I would usually be more tactful in these types of situations, not to lash out in such a manner, however, this reminds me of the GAP incident nearly 8 years ago to the day. Sadly, I cannot stand in silence.
So what happened? What can we do about it? Let’s talk about the original Legendary logo first. The original logo had some rugged and distressed brush stroke typography that fit very well with the North Dakota scenery and the wild west. The mark was awesome and it definitely set the stage for a great brand. Sadly, the logo was abused throughout the years outside of tourism and I felt hindered it a bit. It was often used as a replacement for the word North Dakota. Does anyone remember the “North Dakota Rush Hour Commute” billboard? I think it was the first time I can recall the mark abused. Things started to change in 2014 as the marketing team at North Dakota Department of Commerce along with other agencies all stepped in to help define the logo, brand and how they were going to use it statewide. The mark was also cleaned up and simplified allowing for more flexibility. The original distressed logo had some small issues mainly when dealing with ad specialties such as embroidery or when it needed to be really small. The distressed pieces sometimes got lost or was impossible to replicate in some instances. Although I liked the distressed brush look more, I understood the need for simplification and to infuse a more contemporary look to the mark, eventually adopting it. I applaud Commerce, they really embraced the mark and did a awesome job strengthening the mark and restricting how it is used which brought the brand further with purpose and tact.
I have personal ties to this logo, so I may be a little bias. Although, when a brand is working, you will naturally get emotionally attached. I’ve also spent a lot of time working with this mark as well as the brand and seen its progression and growth to maturity. I also personally know who worked on the original mark. I have a lot of respect for him and proudly call him family. Mike Bruner is the man behind the North Dakota Legendary logo and one of the masterminds behind the North Dakota tourism brand. Mike alongside the award winning team at Odney, has worked tirelessly throughout the years with the team at the tourism department to make North Dakota well represented. The proof is there, they have done an awesome job. With the introduction of Josh Duhamel as the state tourism spokesman, I’ve honestly, never been more proud of North Dakota and where I’m from. We are finally no longer represented as the state that everyone wonders if we drive cars or have electricity. The brand is really in the forefront of that and the mark is the stamp of approval. Obviously, there is more reasons to like North Dakota but that’s a whole other conversation.
In conclusion, it’s a sad day for North Dakota and for the designers that live there. We no longer have a brand that is uniquely ours which provided us with an identity that we could be proud of. I would like to see the original come back and be the driving force behind any brand message they want to convey. #standbythemark #northdakotalegendary
Although I like the visual depiction of Burgum breathing down the neck of a poor intern as he thinks he controls the North Dakota brand. However, the Knox Radio News states that the new logo and brand was designed by Muskoda Communications of Hawley, MN, at a cost of less than $10,000, according to Holly Holt, a senior manager of strategic services for the Department of Commerce. Muskoda Communications hardly has a digital footprint out there with no proof of capability. Upon further digging, It appears that Kara Ellefson is the owner of the company who also has ties to Burgum. She was once the marketing director at Microsoft during the same time Burgum was Senior Vice President. I am very interested in hearing further about Burgum’s strategy and why he needed to go through the hoops to get this changed.
More as news comes.