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Wow: Rebranding Moscow
By: Kaitlin T. Gallucci
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The city of Moscow is undergoing a pseudo-rebranding — “to make Moscow one of the most attractive cities in the world for business or [living]… [to attract] the most talented people…[and] to change the perception of compatriots and foreigners” — with a large-scale project called “Moscow — for you!”

According to Brand New, this appears to be a personal project created by architect Nicholas Pereslegina and designer Alexander Pershikova, without any actual government involvement. Regardless, it is a full-scale branding initiative, with merchandise featuring a Moscow-branded logo.

The concept for the new Moscow “brand” looks to be an attempt at modernizing the historic capitol, geared toward a younger demographic, with a logo developed around the use of emoticons. The official concept is an equation: Surprise + Smile, utilizing a combination of the emoticons for “surprise” and “smile” in the logo.

As Brand New commented, “This is such a funny brand exercise because it is so unexpected, giving Moscow a very un-serious personality…I don’t think it’s the most appropriate — it’s perhaps too silly and youth-oriented — but it’s a great way to change perceptions and expectations.”

For such an upbeat identity, it seems to be garnering a “love it or leave it” reaction, with many confused by the purpose and goal of the brand (though, to be fair, this is a small sample of design-oriented reactions). Is this targeted to Moscow? Is this targeted to foreigners? The comments on Brand New alone run the gamut from “I love it,” to “I don’t like it!” to “April 1st was last month.” As designer Skylar Hartman described, “This says nothing about who Moscow is or was.” Commenter C-Rocka said, “I think the guys were just trying to have some fun when putting together this branding. Obviously it isn’t official if the government isn’t recognizing it. I think it is fun to an extent and maybe their targeted audience is youth around the world.” A Russian commenter questioned why the designers would use the English name to brand the city, which may be a sign that this is in fact targeted towards non-Russians.

Perhaps over time, the story behind this initiative will further develop. Until then, the predominant reaction will probably remain: confusion.

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About the Author
Kaitlin T. Gallucci is a New York based direct and digital marketing strategist. She tweets here.
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