NYC Gets Its Own Custom Fonts and Iconography

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Since the mid-1970s, New York City has proactively cultivated its own brand and identity for both tourism and for the residents within. From the I ❤ NY campaign in 1977  (created by New York State Empire Development Corporation) to the gorgeous See the City campaign in 2014-15 that encouraged New Yorkers to explore more of the gems in all five boroughs, graphic design has formed a key element of this branding. Now, New York City has its own custom fonts, launched with the release of the new NYCgo.com website.

The design work was all done in house at NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing agency. The font City Block is derived from the wide NYC & Company logo you’ve seen on taxis and government posters since 2007. As Emily Lessard, creative director for NYC & Co. explains “For the first time ever, we have an official typeface that matches the geometry of the NYC & Company logo.”

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Another font, NYC Sans is inspired by Massimo Vignelli’s iconic branding and signage for the New York City Transit system in 1972. Lessard says, “Starting with a version of this typeface that was digitized for the MTA Standards Manual reissue, we developed our second official typeface.” The Helvetica-inspired font also aims to reflect the city’s diversities by offering alternatives for certain letters with 4 options for Y and 4 options for M, for example. As a result, there are 4000 ways you can write New York City with NYC Sans.

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There’s also a brand new set of iconography for New York City, crowdsourced from submissions by many city agencies. A first set of 120 icons – including ones for bagels, pizzas and donuts – was released with more coming quarterly.

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As you’ll see on the NYCGo website, there is a new color palette (black with vibrant pop colors) with subtle halftone patterning, inspired by the pop art of Roy Lichtenstein. You’ll also see the new branding on posters on newsstands and bus shelters, and airports – there’s one live already at LaGuardia Airport. One poster, which reads “Some New Yorkers are born. Some are made. All are welcome,” perfectly captures the city and the values it strives for.

Check it all out at NYC.go. Next, see the gorgeous vintage-inspired posters from the See the City campaign.

 Massimo Vignelli, NYC & Company

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