Re-Branding DC

Anatomy of a Social Media-Based Rebranding Campaign…

Walk around Washington, DC in the summertime, and everywhere you look… tourists wearing “I Heart DC” t-shirts. For shame! Of course, this isn’t an original design. It’s a straight ripoff of Milton Glaser’s famous “I Heart NY” design from the 1970’s.¬†Well, this is no longer the 1970’s. And DC isn’t NY. So why does the “I Heart DC” design represent our city?

This was the thinking behind (re)DC: The Tourist T-Shirt – A curated competition we launched through ReadysetDC this summer. We pulled together some of DC’s most talented graphic designers with a challenge: Create an original icon that proudly represents the real DC… one that tourists and natives alike would be proud to wear.

The 12 submitted designs were featured on ReadysetDC where the DC public had an opportunity to vote on their favorite design. The design with the most votes would be crowned “DC’s New Official Tourist T-Shirt”.

The campaign launched, and immediately caught the attention of DC’s media outlets and blogosphere. The frenzy of attention led to record-breaking traffic on – and nearly 3,000 votes later, the winner was chosen.

The winning design was created by none other than Natako himself (the very designer of this site)… We printed 1,000 stickers and a limited edition first run of 51 t-shirts, which were sold at the tourist-themed launch party.

This new icon for Washington, DC has since been gifted to the public under a Creative Commons license. And our desire is to have it reinterpreted as it becomes part of the fabric of our city.


The (re)DC campaign was featured on Ogilvy’s 360 Digital Influence blog: “Crowdsourcing Your Brand? Read These Five Best Practices”

Also written about on Rohit Bhargava’s Influential Marketing Blog in the article “How a Curated Competition Helped Find a New Logo for DC”

On October 8, 2010, the story of the DC Love campaign was broadcast on NPR Radio. It’s all very exciting.

Monday, October 10th, 2011. Filed under: Projects

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