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Eduardo Ramón Trejo | 14 January, 2019

Cities and branding

In his book “Invisible Cities”, Italo Calvino makes a detailed description of non-existent cities in which their physical and metaphorical characteristics make them unique, between labyrinths of streets, signs, buildings, and their own languages. Something similar happens with real-life cities, and branding is one of those elements that contribute to the creation of the visual identity of the metropolis.

Take as an example the city of Mexico and its colorful visual identity for the Metro system. The iconography that was partially created by the controversial Lance Wyman responds not only to a utilitarian reason but is born from the popular imagination; that mixture of prehispanic references and everyday elements that function as a mechanism of visual identification from its context and becomes the context itself. A kind of ‘visual tribute’ that does not feel far from its ecosystem and its function.

Another example is Peru with its graphic identity made in 2011. To show a renewed face to international tourism, a visual system was designed that takes up the great Inca cultural heritage and its Nazca lines to create a logo in which a single element, in this case, a spiral, creates a visual narrative that unifies its communication and becomes a recognizable standard worldwide.

Beyond the trends in design and the search for “aesthetics”, cities and their governments must seek to create their language, culturally and aesthetically speaking, which is not only functional for its inhabitants and its tourists but is also an extension of its visual essence that mixes comfortably with its context.