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. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  2. Design

    How I. M. Pei Shaped the Modern City

    The architect, who died yesterday at the age of 102, designed iconic modern buildings on prominent sites around the world. Here are some that delight and confound CityLab.

  3. Tourists walk along the High Line in Manhattan, New York City
    Life

    The Beauty Premium: How Urban Beauty Affects Cities’ Economic Growth

    A study finds that the more beautiful a city is, the more successful it is at attracting jobs and new residents, including highly educated and affluent ones.

  4. A photo of construction cranes and tall buildings in downtown Los Angeles.
    Equity

    ‘Build More Housing’ Is No Match for Inequality

    A new analysis finds that liberalizing zoning rules and building more won’t solve the urban affordability crisis, and could exacerbate it.  

  5. An artist's rendering of a space colony, with farms, a university campus, an elevated train track, and skyscrapers in the background.
    Design

    Jeff Bezos Dreams of a 1970s Future

    If the sci-fi space cities of Bezos’s Blue Origin look familiar, it’s because they’re derived from the work of his college professor, the late physicist Gerard O’Neill.