The [Heart] of the Matter

Nancy Friedman
7 min readMar 23, 2023

In 1976, New York designer Milton Glaser sat in the back seat of a taxi and arranged three capital letters and a stylized red heart into one of the most effective slogans in contemporary branding history.

“I [Heart] NY” is a trademark of Empire State Development, a New York State agency.

The following year, the Wells Rich Greene advertising agency used the logo —or rebus, if you prefer — in a campaign to promote tourism throughout New York State. The campaign was intended to last only two months; instead, it has endured for almost half a century.

One sign of its success, besides longevity: its many offspring, imitators, and parodies. The latest spinoff, unveiled on March 20, 2023, is the work of the Partnership for New York City, a group of several hundred “preeminent business leaders and companies.”

What does it look like? Like this:

“We [Heart] NYC,” or possible “We NYC [Heart].” The designer is Graham Clifford.

So far, I haven’t seen much [heart] for the new effort; there was a much warmer reception for the post-9/11 variation “I ❤️ NY More Than Ever,” created by Milton Glaser, in which the heart bore a small bruise. If you’re interested in the latest fuss, you can follow this gift link to comments in the New York Times that include words like “travesty,” “atrocity,” “an abomination,” and “Milton Glaser must be…



Nancy Friedman

Writer, name developer, brand consultant, idea-ist, ex-journalist. @fritinancy on Mastodon, Instagram, Bluesky, Threads, and elsewhere.