CHARLOTTE, NC (Steve Harrison/The Charlotte Observer) - New York City has a logo that's recognized worldwide: "I (heart) NY."
Can a crown do the same thing for Charlotte?
The crown is now mostly relegated to street signs and garbage cans, but it's going to be the focus of a new campaign by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.
In early September, City Manager Marcus Jones agreed to give the symbol to the CRVA for 10 years, royalty-free. The tourism authority is planning for the crown campaign to replace the Charlotte's Got a Lot campaign that's been in place for nearly a decade.
"This is our next evolution," said Tom Murray, chief executive of the CRVA.
Boone Oakley was hired by the CVRA to incorporate the crown logo into a new brand mark. The CRVA has so far paid the firm $25,000 for a handful of designs that combine "Charlotte" and "CLT" with the crown.
The contract allows the CRVA to give the brand mark to other groups, including the Charlotte Chamber, Center City Partners and the Regional Partnership if they wish to use it as well.
The contract does not provide for a way to give the city royalties if the CRVA licenses the crown logo to anyone who wants to sell Charlotte-themed merchandise with the so-called "brand mark." The CRVA said it plans to have sell some merchandise for sale when it officially rolls out the new marketing campaign in February.
Brent Kelly, the city's chief marketing officer, who was hired by Jones, said the city surveyed Charlotteans about what symbol they most identified with the city. He said 53 percent chose the crown.
While the CRVA plans to make the crown the city's "brand mark," the city of Charlotte has no plans to make it a fixture in the city.
The city's crown logo is seen throughout the Government Center uptown. It's also on most green street signs and on the side of green rollout garbage cans.
But most city departments don't use the crown. After a massive rebranding campaign, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department recently became Charlotte Water. There is no crown in its logo.
The airport is also undergoing a massive expansion, which includes installing new signs. The airport has its own logo today – an elliptical O, with no crown – and the airport has not discussed plans to incorporate the crown into branding.
And it's unclear whether other organizations will follow the CRVA's lead. Center City Partners was asked whether it will use the new brand mark in its marketing.
Michael Smith, the organization's president, didn't commit to using the design. He said Center City Partners is "grateful" for the the CRVA's leadership in creating "coordination and alignment in our brand strategy."