Months after rebranding, bill seeks contest for new North Dakota logo

Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, and Rep. LaurieBeth Hager, D-Fargo, are not fans of the official North Dakota logo. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune
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BISMARCK — A North Dakota lawmaker is introducing legislation to seek a new state logo, citing what he says is wide dissatisfaction with the new brand.

Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla — the Democratic-NPL nominee for governor in 2016 — is the primary sponsor of House Bill 1457. The bill would direct the state Department of Commerce to oversee a contest for entrants to create a new logo to be selected in time for the state's 2020 travel guide.

HB1457 appropriates $90,000 for contest winners, including $50,000 for first place.

"Everyone I talk to absolutely hates the current logo," Nelson said. "This is supposed to brand our state for the next decade or so, and I think our tourism industry's too important to have this out there as the image of North Dakota."

North Dakota's Tourism Division rolled out the new "Be Legendary" brand in October, replacing the longtime "North Dakota Legendary" logo.


The two logos are noticeably different in their appearance. "Legendary" has a slanted, Western-style script, while "Be Legendary" is more spare and appears to use three different fonts varying in size.

"It looks like a Microsoft Word with standard fonts that somebody did on a business card in 10 minutes," said Nelson, describing the current logo as "a mistake that we should just jettison and move on."

The old logo, top, and the new 'Be Legendary' logo, bottom.

Rep. LaurieBeth Hager, D-Fargo, said she supports Nelson's bill. She said "Be Legendary" isn't an identifiable brand.

"I liked the old logo, and I didn't see any reason for changing that. I didn't think it seemed out of date, to me," Hager said, adding that a logo should inspire pride.

North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman said the process for the "refreshed" brand began about 18 months ago and grew as an effort to unify state agencies and programs.

"The idea really was built on unification," Otte Coleman said. The "Be Legendary" brand is now used by more than 25 state agencies.


Muskoda, a marketing communications consultant in Hawley, Minn., designed "Be Legendary" for just under $10,000, according to Otte Coleman, explaining that it was chosen for the company's "fresh perspective."

Otte Coleman also said she probably won't testify nor take a stance on HB1457, though she did acknowledge dissatisfaction she's seen or received on the current logo.

"Any time you do a new logo, it's kind of like approval ratings," Otte Coleman said. "You never know where you're going to come out on those."

Regardless of whether his effort passes, Nelson said his bill at its base seeks to have a conversation about the state's logo.

"This is the public image of our state," he said.

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