When it came to designing a graphic identity for the city of Porto in Portugal, one visual symbol wasn’t enough. Porto-based design firm, White Studio, brainstormed what made Porto memorable and unique, and asked people on the street how they viewed the city. No two answers were alike. White Studio concluded, “We felt we needed to give each citizen their own Porto. We needed to show all of the cities that exist in this one territory….It became clear to us that Porto needed to be much more than a single icon, much more than a single logo. It needed complexity. It needed life. It needed stories. It needed personality.”
The designers also needed a way to create a single unified look that would serve as Porto’s one graphic identity. The answer came in the decorative blue ceramic tiles seen throughout the city for centuries. The line drawings and illustrations on the tiles depicted visual stories about Porto’s history, landmarks, and natural surroundings. That inspired White Studio to create 70 pictograms that represented Porto and its people. The pictograms were designed to fit on a grid that could be combined into a network of images or used individually. The logotype itself is a simple blue sans serif against a white background within a blue boxed border. The beauty of this visual system is that it allows elements to be changed out frequently and still be recognizable as Porto’s graphic identity. It works.