Back in July, I wrote a post called “Viva Las Logo!” about the identity system I had implemented for the 2010 NAI National Workshop to be held in Las Vegas. In the post, I noted that I never submitted my first attempt at a logo, which featured the iconic “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, because one of the people involved in the discussion, a Las Vegas native, was understandably sick to death of that stupid sign.
It reminded me of the first discussions NAI staff and the workshop committee had about the logo for the 2006 workshop in Albuquerque.
The first concept that I submitted (pictured here) never made it beyond sketch stage because every single member of that year’s committee, upon seeing this idea, tied me to a log, tarred and feathered me, set me on fire, kicked me in the shins, insulted my heritage, put me on a raft, and pushed me out to sea, all the while screaming, “There’s more to Albuquerque than hot air balloons!” (Duly noted.) We ended up doing something completely different involving Route 66.
So for the 2010 event, I never submitted my first idea, the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign, and we went with something different. If you’re a graphic design purist, this is a good thing. The sign itself is poorly designed. If hokey and tacky got married, their baby would look like this sign. It features primary colors (which are fine, though a little Fisher-Price-ish), three typefaces for just six words, and at night, flashing lights and neon. Also, it relies too heavily on centering, which is lame. If it were on the Internet, it would be a blinking, underlined, animated gif.
If you live in Las Vegas, you’re probably sick of this junky sign representing your city and the diverse natural and cultural heritage that surrounds it. But if you’re a fan of kitsch and are not from Las Vegas, the sign is great. It’s playful, glitzy, and immediately recognizable.
So naturally, I was still attached to the idea of using the sign in something related to NAI. I decided to use the concept for the 2010 NAI member lapel pins that the association distributes each year. The design of these pins usually relates to the location of that year’s workshop. When we unveiled and started distributing the pins at the NAI National Workshop last month in Hartford, a funny thing happened. People loved them.
Most people looked at the alternate design I had come up with (above) and shrugged or muttered something about Miami. But the pins were a hit. NAI staff and the workshop committee revisited the logo discussion, which I have never seen happen in almost nine years with the association. It didn’t take long to make the decision to ditch my Miami-Helvetica experiment and adopt the sign.
Of course, the logo is not an exact replica of the sign. I changed the number of typefaces used from three to two, altered the color and placement of the starburst* (changed from red to blue because warm colors advance and cool colors recede and I didn’t want it to be too prominent), and chose a slightly different script typeface (called “Ballpark Weiner,” found on www.dafont.com) for the word “Fabulous” and the workshop slogan.
To me, the lessons from this whole experience are: 1. Never hold back an idea that you like just because you think you know what the reaction is going to be, and 2. If you have the opportunity to embrace kitsch and have a little fun with glitz, take it.
*Ha! I used a starburst!