Long may Colorado's creatives wave!

State representative Bob Rankin has waved the white flag. Last week, HB 1071, his proposal to take the new state brand to a vote of the people, failed to get out of committee, clearing the way for Governor John Hickenlooper's Making Colorado campaign to continue rebranding this state.

Just the day before Rankin's leggo-my-logo hearing, the governor's office announced that 250 Colorado companies had already registered for the byColorado program, eager to use the new state mark — a green triangle officially known as the Peak, and unofficially as the Mile High Hazmat sign — to show that they are of the state, by the state, and for the state.

"Colorado has a healthy, vibrant business climate and maker economy," explains Aaron Kennedy, the state's chief marketing officer, who led the branding effort that resulted in the new logo, which was revealed last August. "In fact, the state is leading the nation in many industries, such as natural foods, aerospace, quick-casual restaurants and sustainable energy. However, much of the nation and world is largely unaware that we have more than mountains and a couple Hall of Fame quarterbacks here."

The byColorado program is designed to allow Colorado-based companies to brand themselves with a badge based on the new logo, showing the world that this state is not only known for its snow-capped peaks (and losing football teams), but its enterprising businesses, large and small. Companies can choose from such categories as "Colorado Made," "Colorado Grown," "Colorado Designed," "Colorado Company" and "Colorado Employer." The goal is to enroll 1,000 companies by the end of 2014. "When a talented engineer in Chicago continues to see the 'Colorado Made' icon on things she buys, like her milk carton, bread, crackers, ski jacket, socks, shoes, duffel bag, she just might expand her perception about Colorado and the prospects of having a rewarding career here, along with a healthy lifestyle," Kennedy explains. "This program will make it easier for all of us to buy local and help us attract the talent we need to thrive in the global marketplace, achieving brain gain instead of brain drain in Colorado."

But the triumph of the new logo — which is also being rolled out by the twenty-plus departments of the state government — does not mean that the century-old Colorado flag has been put to rest altogether. As Rankin said before the hearing on HB 1071, "Coloradans take as much pride in the flag and flag symbol as they do in the Bronco orange." More, actually, since the Super Bowl loss.

One of the real surprises in the response to the state's rebranding effort was the affection that Coloradans feel for the state flag — even if Kennedy says the flag design didn't test well outside the state, since many people assumed the C stood for Chicago.

But we know it stands for Creative.

While there's been no shortage of Peak parodies, Colorado's creatives continue to salute the state flag, using it as the inspiration for posters, T-shirts, hats, headbands, tattoos and everything imaginable. And we'd like to help them keep that flag flying high.

So at Artopia, Westword's eighteenth annual celebration of the arts on February 22, we're going to devote one gallery to work that celebrates the Colorado flag, and reward the most creative pieces. Kennedy has even agreed to help judge the submissions.

Have a product or a piece of art that you'd like to share with your fellow Coloradans? E-mail me at patricia.calhoun@westword.com by Thursday, February 20 — or simply drop your work off at the Westword office between 8 and 5 p.m. any weekday through February 20. Our Colorful Colorado collection will debut at Artopia. C you there.

 
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