Formed in 1873 through the joining of Buda, Pest, and Old Buda, Budapest is the capital and largest city of Hungary with a population of 1.7 million and serves as its main political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation hub. It’s also considered one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. I could get further into details but with city introductions it’s best to keep it short. During a press conference earlier this month, Budapest Mayor István Tarlós introduced a new identity for the city designed by Budapesti Városarculati Nonprofit Kft. (Budapest City Identity Nonprofit Ltd.)
This post on We Love Budapest does a good job in breaking down the story for lack of a project page.
Budapest can be at the forefront in the region; however, this can be achieved only if the capital has a brand strategy with an authentic brand that is easy to communicate. The first element of the new city image of Budapest is the new logo of the capital, “which has an identity, is worthy of the values of Budapest but reflects modernity and is also timeless”, Alexandra Szalay-Bobrovniczky, deputy mayor for human affairs said. She added: the logo uses classical elements, but it can reflect to the current trends, as well. The coat of arms in the logo has been streamlined, and the original heraldical colours have been simplified. Also, the new slogan of Budapest - “the city that unites” - represents the complexity that is well-liked about Budapest.
The old logo represents all that I dislike about unicase wordmarks with the tiny counterspaces in the uppercase letters and giant counterspaces in the lowercase — just look at that “Pe” relationship, so awful. To its credit, at least the weight across letters was the same. At the center of Buda and Pest, instead of the river Danube like in real life, the logo showed the city’s coat of arms and once that logo went under 2 inches or 200 pixels wide, b-bye lion and griffin. Just mush. The new logo introduces a revised coat of arms with a minimalist angular approach,’ rendering the lion and griffin in a much more contemporary way and I wish those two featured more prominently elsewhere as they are really cool. The crown atop the shield doesn’t read like one if you don’t know that that’s what it is and the shield sort of goes into another visual language with the very clumsy Danube river graphic at the center. (Bonus points for the river “feeding” into the animals’ claws). The new wordmark is without a doubt better than the old one and I like that it unites Buda and Pest as a single word, instead of separating the two as the old logo did. This bold serif feels like a better representation of Hungary with its ornate and evocative architecture and scenery in contrast to the dry, corporate feel the old logo represented.
In application, things are clearly still under development as the renderings above show a variety of the same things in different configurations but the premise of a clean identity does come across. The color palette is quite nice and the coat of arms looks great in a single color. The larger use of the shield on its own is not the most flattering as the shield is the least elegant element of the identity. The introduction of a sans serif adds a good contrast while providing a dash of freshness to what is otherwise a more conservative aesthetic. Overall, I would much rather visit or do business with the new Budapest than the old.
Thanks to Zoltan Szalay for the tip.