The City of Raleigh is growing. We’ve shed our “Sleepy Southern Capital City” motif, maturing into an urban municipality. With newly attracted high profile tech companies, nationally renowned Research Triangle Park, and a bustling downtown nightlife, Raleigh has been in the process of rebranding for years.

This week, the City of Raleigh unveiled a new logo designed by local firm The Assembly — a new look to represent the new brand. Many Raleighites are asking, “What does it mean? Is it just an oak tree? Why did they choose those colors? Why is it blocky on one side?”

Our designers checked out the updated look. We want to note that none of our designers have spoken to either firm involved. As designers, we’re just looking to explore the updated look, compare it with the previous style, and break down the design elements and symbolism of Raleigh’s new logo.

Comparing the City of Raleigh’s Old and New Design

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New Design by The Assembly

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Classic Design

As you can see, some design elements were inspired by the classic City of Raleigh seal, such as the yellow and green palette and, of course, the symbolic Oak Tree.

Minimalist Design

However, the design itself has been modernized. Clean, minimalist designs are the trend in 2018, so the extra flourish and busy lines in the classic wreath have been removed in favor of more flat features. Instead, the colors and shapes are blocky and clean.

Duo-Tone Color Gradient

The logo utilizes modernized duo-tone color gradients and minimal textures. Bright, eye-catching color palettes are also popular. Note how the matte, dull forest green and mustard yellow from the classic logo have been replaced with lighter, brighter versions of the color spectrum.

Modern Font

Large, bold typography is a modern design trend. You can see how the classic seal features a retro serif font with feet on the tips. Nowadays, typography designers prefer sans serif fonts. While this logo doesn’t reach too far outside the box on the typography, it does make use of prevailing trends.

Symbolism

The City of Raleigh, also known as the City of Oaks, has always drawn inspiration from the natural beauty of our landscape. Look no further than Moore Square, where historic oaks stand alongside the growing skyline of our city. We even lower a giant acorn for New Year’s Eve. So the new logo is centralized around a strong, sturdy oak, and makes heavy use of symbolism to convey the past and future of Raleigh.

  • The Oak Tree – Representative of the City of Oaks and our natural history.
  • The green-yellow palette represents our natural areas and parks. As much as the city skyline grows, this logo is meant to assure the viewer that Raleigh will always embrace parks and trees.
  • The logo has a mixed theme of organic and digital, symbolizing the high-tech businesses and growth of Raleigh in digital industries.
  • Half of the oak tree has wavy leaves and lines, indicating a soft, natural, go-with-the-flow personality.
  • However, the tree evolves from left to right, growing into harder, more pixelated lines. This could represent the city’s growth into rectangular buildings, instead of wavy trees, as the downtown highrises grow. It also could indicate the city’s growth in the digital world.
  • Note the change in the text from the old seal to the new logo. The classic logo says “City of Raleigh. North Carolina.” In the new font, the word “Raleigh” stands alone, no longer needing to provide details like state and status as a city. Much like a celebrity such as Cher or Beyonce no longer needs to write their last name to be recognized, this shows that Raleigh is now large enough and bold enough to not need a “last name.”
  • The font is far less classic and serious. Instead, it’s bold and conveys a slight sense of playfulness. It shows we are developing our own personality — our own brand — as a city.

The Storytelling Power of a Simple Logo

Symbolism, style, color schemes, and modern trends are all a critical part of creating a logo, and rebranding requires careful thought and strategizing. How much should you change? How much should you allow nostalgia and history to inspire you?

A picture speaks a thousand words, and a logo speaks a million. Those 250×250 pixels tell your brand’s story to the world. It’s funny how such a small icon can have such a huge impact on how your customers perceive your company — or your city.