We all know the ubiquitous I ♥ NY logo. It’s on t-shirts, posters, keychains… you name it. And it’s also been repurposed for tourist destinations around the world.
But despite its omnipresence, most people have no idea where it came from. Heck, I pretty much thought it came with the city itself. The design is so simple it’s amazing that no one thought of it sooner.
Or is it? When thinking of design ideas for logos and posters, it’s rare that anyone comes up with the most straightforward option on the first try. Even Milton Glaser himself had a completely different idea before envisioning I ♥ NY. We have a task and quickly try to incorporate each and every element, for fear that the audience won’t understand if we leave something out.
As I ♥ NY and Glaser display pretty easily, that’s really not true. Don’t always go with your first idea, no matter how great you think it is. Keep thinking, keep processing, and eventually a new idea will strike. Because the more you know your subject, the easier it will be to sum it all up concisely.
Than again, simplicity doesn’t always work for everyone. I’ve spent countless hours working on my graphic element for my poster already, but I’m sure it’s the right choice. However, I’ll still be using Glaser’s lesson in a way. When one part of a design is bold, you’ve already got the audience’s attention. Keep everything else clean and clear, or you’ll lose it.
One final lesson: design doesn’t always have to be about money and recognition. Glaser hasn’t made a penny off of I ♥ NY, yet he never regrets it because of how much he loves his city and how this logo helped turn NY cynicism around.