Tennessee Wanted Consistency but Elicited Mockery With Its New Logo

$46,000 for an icon 'I could've made on MS Paint by accident'

Tennessee is set to unveil a new state logo, and some Tennesseans are volunteering that they're not too pleased with it.

It's a simple logo, "TN" on a red square over a blue bar, which will replace several others in an effort to unify the state's branding, Gov. Bill Haslam's office told WSMV, the NBC affiliate in Nashville.

The logo was developed by the Nashville agency GS&F at a cost of $46,000, the station reported. That price tag, coupled with the logo's simplicity, is prompting criticism.

Chris Butler, of TennesseeWatchdog.org, initially reported on the new logo based on an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He launched a tongue-in-cheek campaign on his Twitter feed to find a better logo.

In a later tweet, Butler offered a $50 Amazon gift card to the winning entry.

"As part of the redesign of tn.gov, there will be a new visual identity tied to that," David Smith, press secretary to Gov. Haslam, said in a statement emailed to Adweek, noting that the site hasn't been updated in two years. "For consistency, the visual identity that is part of the redesign of tn.gov will be used throughout state government (departments, divisions)."

Smith didn't comment on the thinking behind the new logo, and the agency declined to comment, directing Adweek back to the governor's office.

At least one branding expert thinks Tennessee got good work for its money.

"I like it," said Greg Klassen, principal at Twenty31 Tourism Consulting and a former top official with the Canadian Tourism Commission. "It feels very future-oriented. As my daughter would say, it's got the abbrevs."

Klassen gives Tennessee officials credit for "thinking differently about how the want to be perceived," noting the effective regional branding is important for not just tourism but also investment and employment. But he also suggests the process should have been more inclusive, so people weren't surprised by the new logo.

"A logo means nothing unless it's backed up by emotion, by research," he said. "I would hope for $46,000 a lot of that science went into this."

Twitter commenters, however, mostly shared Butler's negative views.

See more tweets on the new Tennessee logo here.