Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson last week announced the death of the Hayward-era “swave” logo and “Upside of Florida” tagline. Whether you liked those or not, we should all be able to agree that what’s replaced them is a grotesque and embarrassing crime of graphic design.
Mayor Robinson’s changes have been simple but tragic. He’s retained most of the Hayward-era branding but swapped out a few elements for decidedly worse parts, resulting in what can only be described as the design equivalent of an aborted fetus.
Still present is the Hayward-era color scheme and horizontally-split Futura logotype, but the “swave” representing the “O” in “PENSACOLA” has been swapped out for … the city seal.
Don’t get me wrong — the city seal is great. It looks great on paper, as a lapel pin, on the city council dais. But it doesn’t work as a logo, much less as a part of a logo. Logos should be simple. They should be something that can be drawn from memory. They should reproduce well and retain detail whether they’re printed at one inch tall or ten stories tall.
The city seal has far too much detail to work in this way, with five words, six dates, and four distinctive graphic elements within it. When reproducing this new seal-inside-of-a-logo at small sizes (shirt embroidery, letterhead, etc.), the seal will lose all detail and become a messy blob.
Mayor Robinson’s new logo also keeps the tagline placement but swaps “The Upside of Florida” for “Florida’s First & Future,” swapping the Mrs. Eaves type in which the former was set for more Futura. In the Hayward-era version, the juxtaposition of the sans-serif Futura with the serif Mrs. Eaves created some balance. Now, it’s just too much Futura (and that’s coming from someone who thinks Futura is maybe the best typeface ever devised by man).
Perhaps the single worst and most inexplicable aspect of the new logo is the fact that Mayor Robinson’s additions — the city seal and new tagline — are set in a royal blue color completely unrelated to either the blue or green he’s carried over from the Hayward-era version. It’s bizarre. It’d be like if FedEx announced they were tweaking their logo, and that most of the logo would stay in their iconic purple and orange colors, but the X was going to be set in a randomly different shade of orange.
Setting the design crimes aside for a moment, though — that tagline. Oh, that tagline. 🤦♂️
Go try adding a #floridasfirst&future tagline to a tweet or gram. See what happens.
No worries. I’m sure everyone will remember to swap out the ampersand for the word “and” when they post. This will definitely catch on.
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that for all of the grousing from some in the community, the “Upside of Florida” tagline really took off, with more than a quarter of a million uses on Instagram alone. Businesses have sprung up with “Upside” in their names. Has anyone measured the value of the brand equity that Mayor Robinson has decided to abandon?
Good logos should be simple, memorable, and scalable. Mayor Robinson’s embarrassing Frankenstein logo is none of the above.