The heart symbol is, by all accounts, one of the most overused images in all of graphic design.
While rudimentary images of the heart symbol date back to as early as the 30th century BC, credit for bringing the image to the forefront of the mainstream consciousness typically goes to designer Milton Glaser and his iconic late 1970s I ❤ NY campaign — which is said to have been sketched in a taxi cab on a way to a client meeting and is still in use today, successfully boosting tourism throughout both New York City and the Empire State as a whole.
The heart has since become a ubiquitous visual reference to a spiritual, emotional, or philosophical attraction to all sorts of products, services, and destinations. It has become so commonly used, in fact, that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show current registrations for 1,407 “I ❤” trademarks, with hearts also appearing in everything from newer identities for Southwest Airlines, CVS Health, and Airbnb to the widespread usage of emojis and the symbol “<3” in personal texting, according to Emblematic’s February 2016 article, Heart Rate Rising.
For all of these reasons and more, Eastern Standard takes a judicious approach to the use of the heart symbol in our designs. While it’s rare to find this image in our portfolio, we featured it to successful effect with our recent “Proud to Trail” campaign for the Circuit Trails, a network of interconnected multi-use trails throughout the Greater Philadelphia region. Its use in this case is meant to evoke a sentiment, not about love in the traditional sense, but rather affection for a community treasure. By incorporating the heart symbol in the logo and related messaging, we evoked the sense of pride that trail users have in common and leveraged a powerful marketing motivator: the social influence wielded by consumers who share an appreciation for common interests and activities.