Located in Wallonia, the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium, Charleroi is a smallish (although the fifth most populous in Belgium) city that sits one hour away from Brussels. It was founded in 1666 with King Charles II of Spain as its leader and namesake — “roy” means king, so Charles-roy equals Charleroi. The city is located at the center of a coal basin and has an industrial economy (iron, steel, glass and chemicals) that suffered some of the highest unemployment rates and poverty during the 1980s and 90s and is only now beginning to recover. It’s sometimes compared to Detroit. As part of its slow renaissance, the city recently approved a new logo designed by Brussels-based Pam et Jenny.
The old logo was a fireworks display of stuff with swooshes, lines, colors, and textures surrounding a watermark depiction of the city’s flag, which is the “Bold Rooster” (or Coq Hardi) holding the coat of arms, and some bad-decision typography to complete it. The new logo takes a number of different cues from the history and context of the city resulting in a bold and simple monogram. A “C” for Charleroi, obvs., with a shape on top that alludes to the mountains of the coal basin, the crest of the rooster, and the crown of the king. Smart, appropriate, and attractive.
If you must draw comparisons to this year’s earlier project of the City of Covington’s “C” logo, knock yourself out. Just don’t claim it was copied.
All applications are prototypes, since this is a slow-moving change. (Case in point: the new logo wasn’t on the city’s website a couple of weeks ago when the project first started making the rounds). The imagined applications, using Michael Mischler’s T-Star, point to a relaxed identity with a bit of sense of humor, placing the crown shape atop people and employing a youthful color palette highlighting the growing cultural scene. The identity could use some refinement and tightening but with a cool, simple logo at the forefront, things will probably fall in place as they get produced.