Landmark Branding Gone Wild

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Wichita, Kansas is home to an unlikely debate over a new logo design for a local landmark. The Century II performing arts and convention center has a new logo bearing the image of its distinctive dome shape, but this distinctive shape may be the problem.

The logo design’s image is of a rounded dome with a square at the top. Since its introduction, this has been compared to many things, including the lid of a grill or a wok and a child’s scrawling. However, it is another comparison that is causing the controversy: a comparison to the shape of a female breast. This similarity has led to the logo being re-evaluated by city leaders.

While city leaders are thinking twice about the logo, it is the Wichita graphic design community that has become the most outspoken group of critics when it comes to this logo. In fact, local designer Jarrett Green even created a website for local designers to submit their own design improvements. Green has noted that the currently proposed website “…does not represent that building, both in its architecture and its history.” Obviously many agree, because just a day after its creation the website had already seen more than fifty alternate logos uploaded.

Does the Century 2 logo design need a complete overhaul or a minor facelift? While it is easy to see the similarity between the current image and a human breast, the rest of the logo was well designed. The brushstroke nature of the drawing was certainly appropriate because it suggested the arts. The black and gray color palette was versatile, in keeping with the center’s use as both an arts center and a convention center for more business-like gatherings. The serious font with serifs has been modified to add longer serifs, further creating a sense of balance between arts and business.

Another criticism focuses on the more pragmatic issue of reproduction. Many people fear that the detail in the brushstrokes may mean that the logo doesn’t print well in non-paper media, such as shirts, and also that it may not maintain its character when scaled to very small or very large sizes. This factor is one that most professional logo designers take very seriously. Many graphic designers also feel that the image is not in proper proportion to the writing.  Indeed, the image may be a little overwhelming in large sizes. Last, the drawing is a little too basic. While it captures the building’s overall shape, it fails to represent some of the details that make the building so unique.

One good thing about this uproar is that it is attracting attention both to the logo design and to the building that it represents. While negative publicity is not always good (despite what you may have heard to the contrary), this media attention has created a community spirit for the convention center that previously did not exist.

Is a logo design worth all the controversy? We certainly think so. This logo design will represent the Century 2 building in a variety of contexts for years to come. With so many people watching, it is more important than ever to get it right.