Controversy over the new logo of the city of Cologne: where has the cathedral gone?

When it comes to “their” cathedral, most people in Cologne don’t mess around. No wonder, after all, that the Catholic Church is not only the flagship of the world-famous metropolis on the Rhine, but also a central element of Cologne’s identity. It is not for nothing that one of the most popular songs of the Cologne cult band “Bläck Fööss” is called “Mer losse d’r Dom en Kölle” (“We leave Cologne Cathedral”). And that is why many people in Cologne react particularly sensitively when someone does not show the cathedral the respect they think they need.

The municipal administration of Cologne is also discovering this in recent days. The reason: a few days ago the municipality presented a new logo of the city. The new brand will replace the previous logo after about 20 years because, according to a market analysis commissioned by the Municipality, it is now “obsolete, antiquated, bulky, impassive”. What is striking, however, is that the old and the new logos do not differ much: both seals contain a double-headed eagle with the Cologne coat of arms and the wording “Stadt Köln” in a slightly different form. However, there is one obvious difference: the two distinctive cathedral spiers, which were placed to the right of the word mark “City of Cologne” in the old seal, are missing from the new logo.

According to the city, the logo with the cathedral is no longer up to date

The city justifies the change of the logo mainly with digital requirements. The previous logo and the entire brand image, including the corporate design, are no longer up to date. “In particular, the brand image and logo no longer meet modern requirements, especially with regard to digital applications such as presence on the Internet and in the area of ​​social media,” says a press release. Instead of a truly complex national emblem, the brand should in the future be clear, concise, recognizable and usable in the media as the “seal of a modern metropolis”.

“I wonder if getting the cathedral going is a good thing.”

– Quote: The dean of the city of Cologne Robert Kleine

However, this justification does not convince many people in Cologne. Former Cologne mayor Fritz Schramma, for example, during whose term the old logo was introduced, told the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger” ahead of the old logo: “I understand what should be old-fashioned, bulky, free of emotions and condescending, whoever wants or who has too much money. ” The 74-year-old called on the people of Cologne to resist the modernization of the logo.

The Catholic Church had previously criticized the new brand. “I don’t know who recommended the city, but I’d look next to the name to see what other features you have. There are many churches and cathedrals with two towers, but the two spiers in the old logo were very thin and yet everyone knew:” Ah, that it’s Cologne. This is Cologne Cathedral, “Cologne City Dean Robert Kleine told domradio.de. There was a similar debate a few years ago when the Cologne Fair Center removed the cathedral from its logo.” I wonder if it is so cool to make the cathedral disappear, “Kleine said literally. However, he is confident that the cathedral will survive even the next ten logos of the city.

However, Kleine doubted that the new brand, as some critics suspected, could be a sign of progressive secularization in Cologne, which was once so Catholic. “I think you want to follow a trend and keep up with the times. Everything is somehow objectified and the cathedral has been thrown on the train. Other cities are already putting their sights in their logos and are proud to have something you can advertise with, “explained the priest. Of course Cologne is not only made up of the cathedral, but also of its neighborhoods and cultural scene. “For me, however, everything is behind the cathedral. Because the cathedral stands for Cologne. This is sung in so many songs, not just at carnival,” says Kleine.

Image: © City of Cologne

The cathedral spiers (right in the red box in the center of the image) are to be used in the future Cologne city branding image, as shown in this example image.

Despite strong criticism, which is also reflected in numerous comments on social networks, the city does not want to back down from its plans. “The branding change is a done deal,” said a spokesperson for the German News Agency (Dpa). And also: “This also includes the new logo, there will be no subsequent changes.” You also need to see the brand identity revised in its entirety.

“It hardly becomes more Christian”

The municipality explained in more detail in its press release what it means with a view of the cathedral tops. As a result, the two towers of the cathedral will not disappear from the brand image at all, but should receive a “new and prominent function”. Going forward, the cathedral will be seen on all posters, brochures, notices and social media posts as a “recurring communication feature,” according to the city statement. Communication expert Christian Boros, who was involved in the development of the new logo, confirmed this to the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”: “If the city publishes a post on social media, for example, then the new administration logo is a the top as the sender as a national emblem with the double-headed eagle and no dome. Below, on the other hand, is the white serrated dome in the red text area. This means that the dome is more of a part of the content. “

The city has since confirmed that religious motives played no role in removing the cathedral from the logo. “The Christian history of Cologne is still in the logo – in the form of our city’s coat of arms,” ​​said the city spokesman for the Dpa. In it appeared the three crowns, reminiscent of the Three Kings. His conclusion: “He can hardly be more Christian.” However, it is questionable whether this will appease critics of the new logo.

By Steffen Zimmerman

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