Madrid's old Logo is on the left, its new one on the right. Ayuntamiento de Madrid

Adiós, exclamations.

When it comes to city branding, Madrid’s new mayor has decided simpler is better. This week, Mayor Manuela Carmena’s administration unveiled a new logo for Spain’s capital, albeit one intended to be phased in only gradually on city signs, vehicles and stationery so as to avoid unnecessary extra costs.

Overall the new branding, designed by Estudio Ale Salerno and shown above (new to the right, old to the left), is plain and somewhat conservative—but altogether better than the previous version the city used, introduced in 2007. Just as before, the logo still focuses on Madrid’s coat of arms—a delightful image of a bear reaching up into a strawberry tree that’s been in use in the city since 1222. What’s gone, however, are the two huge exclamation points that used to bracket the city’s name, so large that they look alarmingly like baseball bats poised to beat the living daylights out of it. 

A statue portraying Madrid’s coat of arms.
Source: Darren Perrin/Flickr.

Madrid has apparently created a new visual stamp because the last logo fell between two stools. Its suggestion of permanent arousal was probably intended to promote the idea of Madrid as fun—or as former mayor Ana Botella might have put it, “Faaaan!” As the new administration has noted, this meant trying to create a visual image that was "a mix between promotion and institutional needs [but] did not quite work in either case.” In other words, the logo was too wacky to work for official purposes, but too boring to be an eye-catching marker for tourists. 

Much like city flags, as my colleague Linda Poon wrote in April, good design can make the difference between people using and enjoying the logo, or ignoring it completely. The new one, which also inverts the white-on-blue coloring of the previous effort, won’t win any prizes for being avant-garde. (According to city officials, the new design is still “in beta phase.”) Still, as the failure of Madrid’s previous, somewhat kookier logo shows, there’s no reason why it should try to be.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A woman stares out at crowds from behind a screen, reflecting on a post-pandemic world where exposure with others feels scary.
    Life

    What Our Post-Pandemic Behavior Might Look Like

    After each epidemic and disaster, our social norms and behaviors change. As researchers begin to study coronavirus’s impacts, history offers clues.

  2. Maps

    Your Maps of Life Under Lockdown

    Stressful commutes, unexpected routines, and emergent wildlife appear in your homemade maps of life during the coronavirus pandemic.

  3. photo: an open-plan office
    Life

    Even the Pandemic Can’t Kill the Open-Plan Office

    Even before coronavirus, many workers hated the open-plan office. Now that shared work spaces are a public health risk, employers are rethinking office design.

  4. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  5. photo: Social-distancing stickers help elevator passengers at an IKEA store in Berlin.
    Transportation

    Elevators Changed Cities. Will Coronavirus Change Elevators?

    Fear of crowds in small spaces in the pandemic is spurring new norms and technological changes for the people-moving machines that make skyscrapers possible.

×