New Downtown Phoenix Logo: Ugly or Just Stupid?

By Ray Stern

The Downtown Phoenix Partnership on Monday decided to dump its "Copper Square" branding of the downtown area and go with a new moniker: Downtown Phoenix.

Practical, yes. Thrilling, interesting or creative -- not. And neither is the so-called logo (pictured above) that comes with it.

Although it looks like a junior high school student could have designed this logo, it was actually constructed by a team at SHR Perceptual Management, a Phoenix-based ad agency. The Downtown Phoenix Partnership, made up of various downtown businesses, paid $160,000 to the firm to create the logo and new branding scheme.

Jim Flynn, the partnership's marketing director, says the phrase "downtown Phoenix" and the logo are supposed to symbolize downtown as "the urban hub of Arizona. It's got urban offerings, spirit, a creative environment."

With luck, the stylized "X" in the logo will become so easily recognized by folks that it can be "extricated" and used to mark particular locations or products, Flynn says. But care will have to be used in displaying the "X" in certain contexts, he admits, since the "X" looks a little like a Christian cross (a truly effective logo) if tipped a few degrees counter-clockwise.

The "Copper Square" brand will be phased out slowly, though some of the big murals seen around town, like the one at the downtown Wyndham Hotel, are expected to stay indefinitely.

Now, the beauty of logos, like non-commercial art, is in the eye of the beholder. But personally, my eyes see a bad logo. The colors don't remind me of anything Phoenix-centric and the typeface is bland. It won't work to paste the logo on top of certain colors -- the parts that stick out past the brown background would need some contrast to be seen clearly.

In a way, though, it's an apt symbol for what downtown Phoenix still is: Adequate for some purposes, but generally still boring.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern