The new logo for Colorado, which critics say looks like a hazmat sign on the back of a tractor trailer.

(Photo: Courtesy of State of Colorado)
A Colorado Rep. Bob Rankin wants to put the new Colorado branding campaign and logo to a statewide vote.

Unveiled in August 2013, the logo is part of Governor John Hickenlooper's six-part strategy to attract business and tourism to the state.

When it was unveiled, the logo was met with a mixed response but the governor defended the design in during the State of the State address to lawmakers last week.  

"We created a unified brand logo, which is almost universally loved," Hickenlooper said as he ticked off accomplishments during the past year. "Two hundred companies have requested to use the brand already, and 117 of Colorado’s companies are already using it.”

That near-universal love the governor described does not include Rep. Rankin, who proposed a new bill to let voters decide whether to keep the branding effort.

"Universally from the common constituent in my district to professional marketing/advertising people, people just think that it looks like a hazmat sign or it simply borrows from other very similar logos," Rankin said. "And it just doesn’t seem unique. It doesn’t call out 'Colorado.'"

Some critics of the Colorado state logo say it's not unique, pointing to the logo for Sugarloaf ski mountain in Maine.

(Photo: Courtesy of sugarloafchamber.org)

Rankin's bill also seeks to halt the state from using the logo or moving forward with the branding effort until the public votes on it.

Rankin thinks some people’s unhappiness with the logo is about more than just aesthetics.

"My constituents, people I talk to, are probably more traditional thinkers, you know," Rankin says. “They like the history of Colorado, they like to think of what we have been and what we are. It does in fact represent a departure from that.”

Rankin’s bill has to make it through the legislature before it could be added to the ballot.

Still, the prospect scares many Colorado graphic designers.

Troy DeRose co-runs Fixer Creative Co. in Colorado Springs and with and his partner they designed a logo for that city in 2012.

DeRose says logo design is a process in which the client and the designer are in constant communication and the finished design should never come as a surprise. The idea of putting the new Colorado to a ballot goes against that process because voters wouldn't have been involved along the way.

The logo for the city of Colorado Springs designed by Troy and Sara DeRose in 2012.

(Photo: Courtesy of City of Colorado Springs)

The Hickenlooper administration says developing the logo was an exhaustive and inclusive process that included consultations with citizens and design professionals across the state.

Two different state offices spent about $800,000 on the branding initiative and received private contributions and in-kind support worth about $1.5 million.

The state also says the new logo won't replace the state flag or seal but instead is meant to unify branding across state offices, which over the years have used several different logos, creating unnecessary costs. 

Rankin and other critics of the green triangle logo prefer the state develop something that looks more like the Colorado flag.

But Aaron Kennedy, the state's chief marketing officer, told the Denver Post that in a nationwide survey, respondents more often identified the red "C" featured on the state flag with Chicago rather than with Colorado.

The new logo is styled in part off of the Colorado license plate, an image that the governor's office says surveys found to be highly identifiable with the state.

The General Assembly hasn't set a date to hear Rankin's bill.