What will Colorado's new brand look like?

What will Colorado's new brand look like?
One of many creative Colorado flag tattoos.

Colorado adopted its state flag in 1911 — but it's never been as popular as it is today. Over the past half-dozen years, the popularity of the flag — with that circle of sun (signifying 300 dubiously counted days of sunshine) or gold (which set off the Rush to the Rockies), inside a bright red C (for the color of earth that inspired this state's name), positioned on a white stripe between two strips of blue — has inspired numerous members of Colorado's creative class to get very, very creative. At a festival in Central City this weekend, for example, we picked up a cunning crocheted headband designed like the flag, as well as a tie-dyed T-shirt with the symbol. Just inside a casino, we spotted a Colorado flag wife-beater. And beyond that, a cool Colorado flag tattoo.

But when Colorado announces the result of its rebranding process next week, the new icon will not be the state flag, or even a portion of it. And was some version of the newly cool Colorado state flag even an option? "No. We don't own it," Aaron Kennedy, the state's chief marketing officer, says simply. By the law that made it the state flag over a century ago, it belongs to the people — which means the people can, and have, and will continue to do anything they want with it.

See also: Vote for the next state symbol.

Meanwhile, Kennedy and his CEO, Governor John Hickenlooper, wanted a uniform look for official Colorado business, for the 22 state agencies and their assorted departments and offshoots that have taken a very polyglot approach on business cards and websites. "We needed a solution," says Kennedy. "We have a flag, we have a state seal, and we need to return them to their purest form." So the cool flag will belong to the people, the clunky seal will be used on legal documents, and for months the folks recruited to help Kennedy collect input and ideas for makingcolorado.com have been working to come up with a symbol that captures how people feel about the state (Off Limits, July 25) — and can still fit on a business card.

It won't be a joint. Kennedy is keeping mum on the final icon, but he did allow that it was something of a challenge to come up with a symbol that emphasized Colorado's beloved mountains at the same time the rest of the country, the rest of the world, now equates our "Rocky Mountain High" with something entirely different than altitude. "Quite a number of contributions referred to Amendment 64," Kennedy admits. "But the mountains capture people's hearts." As a result, he allows that the final symbol will be some variation on the green-and-white triangles — or are those tortilla chips? Or yield signs? Or mountaineering badges? — you see here, semi-finalists leaked to Off Limits from a collection of designs that once numbered in the hundreds but have been boiled down to something that in color and concept echoes Colorado's traditional license plate, "the coolest license plate in the country," says Kennedy. Maybe so, but we can't see any version of these inspiring a headband. Or a T-shirt. Or a tattoo. And maybe that's the point! There's no need to worry about trademark violations when no one would want to violate the trademark.

What would you like to see as the state's new icon? Go to our poll on the Latest Word, where you can choose between these three variations — or, what the heck, vote for the pure, unsullied state flag. But your work won't be over then. In addition to a new brand, the state will be announcing a new slogan. Kennedy assures us that just as none of the leaked symbols were the final choice, neither are these leaked slogans (and a good thing, too): "It's Our Nature," "Live the Life You Want," and "Rising."

Rise up, Colorado!

 
My Voice Nation Help
54 comments
Leigh77
Leigh77

They manipulated the research to justify eliminating use of the flag as part of the logo. This, because Governor Hickenlooper may run for President and wants to distance himself from the marijuana industry. The flag is public property and cannot be trademarked. The green triangle can and is trademarked, and will not be available to this "federally-illegal" industry. They don't really care that people from Colorado can't stand the new logo because the real audience is people outside of Colorado that they want to move here and stimulate the economy. This could have had tremendous value in terms of a buy-local campaign. Shouldn't that have been the point? Now it has seriously upset residents and the Denver Post who feel excluding the flag ignores our heritage. The Governor (a non-native) has made a bad move with this decision. Now the whole thing will probably die instead of be corrected as that will only highlight how much money he has wasted under false pretenses. That's the real story.

Leigh

talmadgeg
talmadgeg

We already thave the DIA conspiracy. The last thing we need is another conspiracy based on the Illuminati triangle. 

talmadgeg
talmadgeg

My husband and I are both Colorado natives. We dislike all of the proposed state symbols. Is this going to be another time government does not listen to the voice of the people they serve? We understand the reasoning and concept of "why" a state symbol is needed, but we certainly do not understand how these god awful symbols were the top three. We want the symbol to be the same colors of our state flag and something that represents or is close to our Colorado state flag. And don't even get me started on the awful slogans! Listen to the voice of the people of this great state PLEASE!

paulaberg
paulaberg

Just to clarify, no one is proposing changing the stage flag.
 
The fact that the flag is on everything from tattoos to tie-dyed shirts is completely awesome, and evidence of how much pride we all have for our amazing state.

But it’s also part of the reason why having a unique state brand, separate from the flag, is important.
 
As Patricia notes, the Colorado flag is in the “public domain,” meaning it can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere.  The Colorado state brand, on the other hand, will be a registered trademark that cannot be used without express permission from the state.

Why does the state need a registered trademark? One reason is the prevention of fraud.

In an era in which we increasingly do business online, things like fraudulent license renewal websites, which are often branded with Colorado flag, can easily dupe citizens into sharing their credit card numbers and other personal information. While not foolproof, legal ownership of a brand can help the state reduce this type of fraud.  

Another reason is budget. Despite having a state flag and seal, all 22 state agencies currently maintain their own unique brands, which results in a costly and confusing mix of logos, stationary, business cards, signage, etc.
 
It is estimated that a unified brand could save some state agencies as much as $300,000 per year in marketing expenses. Multiply even a fraction of that number by 22 state agencies, and you can see how the new brand will ultimately save the state money.

Like so many of the people that have commented here, I love the state flag. I’ve got a Colorado flag cornhole set, and I rock one of those crocheted flag hats in the winter.  But when you think about the challenges associated with managing budgets efficiently and protecting residents online and offline, a unique, trademarked brand doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

Navigator
Navigator

Anything that is an adaptation of the FLAG would be better than any of the other "designs" (note: the word "design" is hard to use in relation to any of the yield signs)...


avman88
avman88

Agree with most people here.....keep the old colorful flag version.

TheRedPill
TheRedPill

Another pyramid with an emphasized capstone...how "creative". 

Scott Sessions
Scott Sessions

Either put a damn pot leaf on the logo or stick with the flag! "Colorado....we put you in a better Altitude"!!

Juliana Rose
Juliana Rose

The new ones don't do our colorful state any justice. It looks like something they'd come up with when they first invented printed graphics... BORING! Keep the old one!

Matthew Denniston
Matthew Denniston

The new thing is redundant, and it looks more like a chemical hazard warning than a mountain.

Eileen Tyler
Eileen Tyler

Stay with one we are used to, much better than new choices

Eric Smiles
Eric Smiles

Why not? We have lots of money to spare for it.

Rob Payne
Rob Payne

I think Colorado has the coolest flag of all flags. No need to change a thing about our symbolism.

Mark Moffett
Mark Moffett

They look like placards warning you of the presence of carbon monoxide.

Doug Hubka
Doug Hubka

What a complete boondoggle. There is Zero need to change anything

Keith Pizio
Keith Pizio

I'd go with the bottom right, but I swear I've seen that before. On a banner or something.

Ryan Rice
Ryan Rice

If it isn't broke don't fix it! Keep the flag, we have a beautiful flag!

John Pinnick
John Pinnick

The key statement in the article is "we don't own it" It belongs to the people". That's why they want to change it for sure. The way it is right now anyone can make money on the flag branding, because the people own it. I'm sure they believe they are creating a new branding that the people will levitate to because it's Colorado. Well they are wrong, we like the flag and we aren't buying your green chili dorito chip dipped in sour cream. KEEP THE FLAG! THE PEOPLE OWN IT AND WANT IT!

Drew Little
Drew Little

I actually had to vote which one I disliked the least (current flag was not an option).

Samuel Gault
Samuel Gault

can we just get this over with and make it a marijuana plant?

Jess L. Paul
Jess L. Paul

Keep the flag! It's perfect the way it is!

Christine Shock
Christine Shock

The Flag is the best...way ahead of it's time...Just like Colorado.

 
Loading...