Welcome to Brand USA

Forget the old Red, White and Blue: America is to sell itself to the world via a multicoloured, ‘percolating’ logo by The Brand Union, launched yesterday

Forget the old Red, White and Blue: America is to sell itself to the world via a multicoloured, ‘percolating’ logo by The Brand Union, launched yesterday

Back in 2001, the Bush Administration famously brought in JWT’s Charlotte Beers on a mission to sell America to the world. Bush and Beers may have departed the political scene, but yesterday saw the launch of a scheme to do just that, Brand USA.

Whereas Beers was tasked with the ambitious brief of burnishing, or even rehabilitating, the image of America abroad, Brand USA has more modest aims – boosting overseas visitor numbers in the country’s first national co-ordinated travel and tourism effort. It is the new name for the US Corporation for Travel Promotion, a public-private partnership which itself was formed in 2009 with a mission to ‘promote increased foreign leisure, business and scholarly travel to the US’.

The Brand Union, working with ad agency JWT, was asked to come up with a new name and identity for the organisation. According to the press material, the new design “captures the spirit of the United States: Authentic. Optimistic. Unexpected. Inclusive. Endless Possibilities. It features an arrangement of dots joining together to compose the letters USA. The dots and their varied colour scheme are meant to represent the diversity of people and experiences that can be found in the United States. To further emphasise that there is no single, definitive United States, the identity is not tied to a single palette and can be appear in a range of color schemes.”

According to Brand USA, “The Brand USA logo was designed to capture the American spirit and create a fresh new brand identity that welcomes the world to come experience the boundless possibilities in America. It is not about patriotism, flag waving or chest beating. It is meant to be welcoming, unexpected and inclusive. It celebrates the idea that no one thing defines the USA – but that each visitor interaction and each experience helps create the distinctly dynamic fabric of the American experience.”

The Brand Union’s Wally Krantz has described the mark as a “percolating” image: in animated form, multicoloured dots to resolve the letters USA (you can see it in motion in a rather cheesy promotional video here). “We wanted to find a logo that was both aspirational and true to the heart of the country; the use of a percolating image encapsulates the energy and optimism that draws people to the United States,” Krantz has said. The logo is used with the URL of dicoveramerica.com, the main Brand USA website.

JWT is to create an ad campaign featuring the identity which will launch in January.

First impressions? No red, white and blue, which would have been the obvious choice. As stated at the launch, those involved were conscious of avoiding anything that could be seen as too “flag-waving” and instead have attempted to concentrate on America’s diversity – of environment, of opportunity, of potential experiences for visitors. America has always meant different things to different people and, of course, is founded on the notion of the diverse ‘poor and huddled masses’ coming together to form a new nation, so the adaptive nature of the mark seems logical. Many, I’m sure, will argue that the country’s traditional colours are so closely associated with it that it seems odd not to include them, however. Perhaps a red, white and blue version may yet emerge? America has so many powerful and instantly recognisable visual icons – stars and stripes, the statue of liberty, the eagle – that it does seem strange to abandon them all for a project of this nature in favour of something nebulous.

As with all identity schemes, we’ll have to see how it looks when applied across a wide variety of media before we can really judge how effective it may prove to be. Here it is applied to the launch brochure in a single colour:

It’s distinctive and highly adaptable which should mean that JWT will find it easy to work with on the campaign elements, which is vital for such a scheme. As we get more examples of it in use, we will follow up.

 

UPDATE: Thanks for all the interesting comments so far. As an experiment, and given the contentious nature of the subject matter here, I’m going to trial a new comment policy on this post. We’re going to moderate comments for quality. Only comments that CR feel contribute to the debate in some thoughtful, insightful, funny or otherwise valid way will be published. It’s shit! or Fail! will not get through. It’s an experiment, let’s see what happens. Afterwards, we’ll ask for feedback

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