Aug 12

Picking a Logo For InvadR, Busch Gardens' First Wooden Coaster

When we announced our new wooden roller coaster earlier this year, we said we would give our fans unprecedented opportunities to be a part of the project. Through our “Decide the Ride” campaign we let consumers select the name of the ride – InvadR – and we have shared behind-the-scenes details of the development like never before. (We even cut holes in the construction wall so guests can peek in on the progress any time.)

Now we have launched a new survey to ask fans to pick the official InvadR logo. You can see the four choices and cast your vote at BuschGardens.com/Project2017 through Aug. 15, 2016. Naturally this has prompted some questions about how we create logos – and how we came up with these options.

This is the first time I can recall ever asking for outside input on an attraction logo. Like selecting a name, logos are usually one of the most closely guarded activities in our company. And they are one of the most challenging.

Logos are essentially graphic shorthand for the attraction. They need to communicate not just the name, but also evoke a sense of the attraction’s characteristics. If it’s a fast, thrilling ride or a bright, playful children’s area, the logo should immediately convey that in its design.

Logos generally comprise three key elements:

  • Type treatment – The font or fonts used to spell out the name.
  • Color – The color scheme for the font, background and other logo elements.
  • Supporting graphics – Icons, borders or other pieces that help tell the “story” of the attraction.

That seems simple enough, right? But with millions of variations and options in each of these three areas, and often multiple messages we wish to convey in the logo, it can become a daunting task.

In the case of InvadR, we had a few criteria for the logo. It had to represent the bold, thrilling nature of the ride, as well as give a nod to its being a wooden coaster. We wanted to support the story line of the ride: a Viking invasion of the New France village.

Another requirement was to accommodate the unique name, to clearly show the capital R at the end. (The R is evocative of Old Norse spelling, rather than the proper English spelling of the word with an “er”.) And finally, we wanted the InvadR mark to fit within the family of our other ride logos and look right in the New France village.

We explored hundreds of directions and versions with alternate colors, fonts and graphics. One of the considerations when choosing a logo is to envision how it will look in different applications. Does it make sense for the attraction sign? Will it look good on a T-shirt or drink bottle? How will it be used in various advertising pieces or the website? We even need to assess whether it will be easy to embroider on apparel, or if it can be simplified for such purposes while retaining the essential characteristics of the logo.

So with all of that in mind, we came zeroed in on the general look of the options we presented for voting. We liked the bold letters that had an Old World feel, but were still clear and readable. The thick letters also allowed us to incorporate a wood grain, hinting at the wooden coaster. The spears and shield add visual appeal and also symbolize the Viking battle theme.

But then it came down to two decisions that we were split on internally: the color and the shield design. Because we did not have a clear winner, we concluded this would another great “Decide the Ride” opportunity. We didn’t necessarily plan a logo vote, but figured it was another fun way to let fans have a say. Whichever choice they pick, we know it will be a strong logo befitting this exciting new ride.

Of course, no set of choices is without its critics. Responses have included criticism that the options are all so similar and some that don’t like any of the choices. As with any creative endeavor, opinions are subjective and can vary widely.

In addition, a few fans have rightly pointed out that the shape of the shield should be round, in keeping with traditional Viking battle gear. Chalk this up to creative license. When we looked at options with the round shield it was difficult to convey that it was a shield and not just an emblem of some sort.

Indeed the entire ride theme – Vikings clashing with French-Canadian fur trappers – is not likely to win us any points with historians. But this is a theme park, not a museum, and our fans seem enthusiastic about the Viking concept. We hope the logo, even with its historically misshapen shield, will reinforce the excitement of what is sure to be a thrilling addition to Busch Gardens.

-Dan, Marketing Vice President