The History of the Iconic I Love New York Logo

  Last modified on August 25th, 2019

One of the most iconic logos in the United States is the one initially intended to promote New York state. The I Love New York logo has been around for about 40 years, and remains one of the most recognized, not only across the Empire state, but across the country.

The logo is designed with the capital letter “I” placed next to the heart symbol, akin to the hearts found in a deck of cards. Under these two images are the capital letters “N” and “Y.” The logo is set in a circle, using American Typewriter typeface for the letters.

Birth of the I Love New York Logo

The creation of the I Love New York Logo is traced back to 1977. In that year, the Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce, William Doyle, was charged with engaging an advertising agency to develop a marketing campaign for the state of New York. He engaged the services of Wells Rich Greene. In addition, the Deputy Commissioner also retained the services of Milton Glaser. Glaser was a a graphic designer. His specific charges was to create a design or logo based on the overall marketing campaign developed by Wells Rich Greene.

Glaser is the individual who came up with the I Love New York logo we see even today. He indicated that he came up with the concept while riding in a taxicab. He thinks he was subliminally influenced by the famous LOVE poster created by Robert Indiana, both the New York logo and the poster using the stacked letter design.

Glaser’s design was immediately approved and put into use. Glaser did not think his campaign would last long and donated his efforts in designing the I Love New York logo. Glaser’s original design sketch and presentation boards were donated by him to the New York Museum of Modern Art.

Transition from Being Associated with New York State to New York City

Although originally intended as a marketing piece for the state of New York, the I Love New York logo eventually became more closely associated with New York City. That remains the case even today.

The I Love New York logo initially was applied to plain white T-shirts in New York City, items of clothing that sold out in no time at all. After that, the I Love New York logo was emblazoned on numerous articles, a practice which also carries on to today.

New York State Song

An outgrowth of the I Love New York logo was the creation of what would become a new state song for New York, aptly entitled “I Love New York.” The song was composed by Steve Karmen in 1977. Governor Hugh Carey declared it the state song in 1980.

The I Love New York logo and 9-11

The I Love New York logo served as one of a number of symbols of hope and defiance in the aftermath of the horrific attacks on New York City on September 11, 2001. The logo’s original creator, Milton Glaser, created a modified version of the I Love New York logo to commemorate the attacks.

The modified logo reads “I Love New York More Than Ever”. There is a little, black spot on the heart itself, intended to symbolize the World Trade Center site. The black spot is placed on the heart at a point intended to approximate the location of the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan.

The commemorative logo was incorporated into a poster that initially was printed in the New York Daily News. The poster, featuring the revised logo, was used as a fundraiser for various New York charities that supported those affected by the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center site. The poster included additional text at the bottom which read: “Be generous. Your city needs you. This poster is not for sale.”

Protecting the I Love New York Logo and Trademark

The I Love New York logo has been widely misappropriated. Despite the logo’s close association in this day and age with New York City, it still remains the intellectual property of the state of New York.

The state has aggressively defended its right to the logo, including its approved use in things associated with the Big Apple. New York state has filed thousands of objections to people and businesses that have misappropriated the I Love New York logo for their own unauthorized purposes. There is in fact a proper channel through which an individual or business can obtain a license to utilize the logo lawfully.

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