Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the road to recovery for New York’s World Trade Center has been financially and emotionally costly, logistically and politically arduous, and all of it has been minutially publicized. The site, owned by real estate group Silverstein Properties since 1998 when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey decided to privatize it, consists (or will consist) of five new skyscrapers (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 WTC), the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center, the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, 550,000 square feet of retail space at Westfield World Trade Center, and a performing arts center. While each building and entity has its own logo, the World Trade Center complex as a whole hasn’t had one, until now. Last week The New York Times was first to report on the new logo designed by Landor.
One of the principal attractions of the story has been the $3.57 million price tag associated with the logo. As we all know, no logo is worth $3.57 million but even as the reported value of the contract awarded to Landor by the “authority board” — not really sure who that is — that is a pretty significant amount of money for even the most comprehensive branding project. But the point is: This is not a $3.57-million-logo.
The other appealing aspect of the story is that the logo is imbued with various meanings that perhaps no one will see. (Given the amount of press received so far I would argue that a large enough group of people now know the meanings and will probably pass it on to others — just like a limited few realized there was an arrow in FedEx’s logo and now even your aunt knows about it).
The six implied meanings are all relevant, none are gratuitous — well, perhaps the 17.76 angle thing is a bit of a stretch — and, more importantly, it’s quite likely that each of those meanings helped the logo make it through the approval process. Each meaning speaks to a different constituency of the interested parties; from those who see the site as an emotionally charged place that needs to be remembered to those who see it as the next real estate and business frontier. There is something in that logo for everyone to approve. And that’s what makes this actually a brilliant solution besides the arguable fact that this may be Landor’s most successful and relevant logo since its late 1990s – early 2000s contemporary heyday.
The logo is almost absurdly minimal, five bars that make a “W”. This alone is reason altogether to celebrate it. It could have easily been the most convoluted logo yet to come out of all the WTC buildings. It’s a bold, graphic, daring logo with a really strong presence when it could have easily been a boring wordmark. It demands decoding, yes, but for anyone interested in doing so they are rewarded with numerous satisfying answers. Even without any explanation, the bars, shaped like abstract skyscrapers and joined together as a whole communicate the basic premise of the new World Trade Center site. Given all the emotion and cash riding on the site and, by extension, on this logo, this is a remarkably successful solution not to be taken lightly.