Not much by way of introduction as it’s not the biggest of destinations but enough to get us going: Romans-sur-Isère is a small commune of approximately 35,000 people in France located on the northeast bank of the Isère river in the Rhône-Alpes region. Its name comes from having been protected by the Roman Pope back in the 800s (that’s eight hundreds, not 1800s). Like other small European towns, it’s quite picturesque with a bevy of Romanesque architectural structures, starting with its signature bridge that served as the basis for a new identity designed by Paris- and Lyon-based Graphéine.
The bridge over the Isère river is a place of passage and exchange. Symbolically, it is a link that connects us to others, a promise of travel and meetings. More prosaically, it’s kind of “Champ-Élysées” of the city, an historical road where events and festivals take place throughout the year. It also offers a perfect view of the Cathedral Saint-Bernard.
The design of the word “Romans” refers to the geography of the city. The “m” stands for the bridge, stepping over the Isère river, while a line break takes Romans back on the right bank.
The beginning of an extra leg to the “m”, gives some originality to the letter. The letter becomes a sign. The word becomes a logo. It gives life to the logo, provides the tempo and push forward the image of the city. This logo is somehow “a bridge that moves forward”.
The old logo… Romans have mercy on us! That thing was beyond bad, almost like a designer trying to ironically design the worst logo possible. And succeeding. The swoosh, the terrible unicase, the colors, the slabs, my god the slabs. The new logo is obviously much better and it starts with an acknowledgment of the architecture of the city and a celebration of its bridge, the main entryway into the city, so it instantly ties it to the destination. The resulting logo is at first awkward to look at because “m”s shouldn’t be sprouting third legs but once you realize it’s in connection to the bridge it makes sense. I’m not sure if I would have preferred a complete third leg instead of the half one that looks like it’s unfinished — I guess it depends on whether you are glass-half-empty or -full kind of person. The line-break and stacking is also strange as it interrupts the readability of the main word. Yet, sure, it’s still feasible to read. The logo isn’t perfect but the “m” works great in application.
The first “level” of applications are pretty straightforward with the logo tucked in the upper corner, generous white space, and basic type approaches. From there, things get more interesting. (There are a few more images at the project page.)
I like the approach of the “m” having different configurations and sizes in relationship to the layouts it lives in, establishing a consistent, key graphic element but giving it flexibility to take more or less prominence. The typography becomes more engaging in this range of applications and the interaction between “m”s and imagery forms an interesting visual narrative of the destination.
Overall, the logo takes some getting used to — once you see it in that last, very long image, it’s hard to picture it not stacked or with the third leg complete — and the applications solidify it. Above all, it’s not the old logo anymore which I imagine its applications were a bridge to nowhere.