Established in 1971, the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism organization for the city of Paris (which needs no introduction). Its mission is threefold: to welcome and inform visitors, to promote Paris as a destination to the rest of France and abroad, and to support businesses and conferences/events to do their thing in Paris. The organization maintains six tourism offices, prints over a million copies of the city’s official map, and maintains the city pass program, among other activities. The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau recently introduced a new identity designed by Paris- and Lyon-based Graphéine.
Using or not the symbol of the Eiffel Tower was our first question. Difficult to do without the great lady, to communicate effectively about the destination “Paris” to an international audience. However, we were aware of entering a visual territory particularly used and where the kitsch border is very close. We went for simplicity, and concentrated our efforts on a typographic design that can be seen as a Parisian skyline, the drawing of the “A” directly evoking the Eiffel Tower. The result is a minimalist typogram.
The old logo was pretty nice with its “City of Lights”-influenced representation of the Eiffel Tower. The typography could have been a little more interesting (or at least given more space to breathe) but it was okay too. I love that Graphéine even thought about NOT including the Eiffel Tower in an official Paris tourism logo — it’s like an NBA team logo without a basketball, a Canadian logo without a maple leaf, or an Australian logo without the shape of the continent. But questioning its need led to a magnificent logo that is unmistakably Eiffel-Tower-esque but without being literal about it and without the cheesiness of all the logos shown at the beginning of the post.
I love the openness of the wordmark as it expands the visual area of such a small word and it lets each of the letterforms sink in, especially the “A” that doubles as the Eiffel Tower. This is as elegant a solution as you will get, particularly in the tourism industry. I’m still not sure why the tittle of the “i” is so high… I personally read it as the moon, high in the sky. To me, this is one of the best destination logos we’ve seen in a while: it’s meaningful, it’s location specific, and it’s perfectly crafted.
By the way, the old logo doesn’t fully go away; it’s still visible in the website and some of the applications below. I guess it’s the equivalent of the old logo being PepsiCo (the parent company) and the new logo being Pepsi (the consumer brand).
In our proposal, the typogram is the central element. It contains the iconography and becomes a window on “Paris”. This frame invites the eye to travel between letters, titles and images, creating curiosity.
We also wanted to invite an illustrator to work with us on iconography. It was the perfect opportunity to collaborate with Séverin Millet, Lyon-based illustrator, whose simple and colorful work perfectly matches with our vision of the project. Going for illustration allowed us to step aside from the usual postcard pictures of Paris, and to offer a fresh, colorful and poetic look of the capital.
In application, the logo turns into an extended logo-as-window device that breaks from the standard use by being affixed to a larger area that includes lively, colorful illustrations by Lyon-based Séverin Millet. The combination of a big swath of white space with great typography on the top area and the burst of color in the bottom area is a simple but highly effective system to apply to all kinds of printed and online communications.
Not only is the logo apt and great but so is the full identity system and its extensions, like Paris Passlib that adopts the tittle of the logo as a point-to-point device and shows how the identity doesn’t rely solely on the fun illustrations to work — that last brochure image for Passlib is a pretty great application that gives the logo a whole other vibe. Overall, this sets the bar for major metropolis destination branding, from logo to applications, in a way that makes the city feel welcoming, friendly, and accessible but also conveys that someone is making a concerted effort to make it look that way and treating the tourism office as serious business.