Stepping Up to the Plate

Rhode Island Seeks a New Image

by Jamie Packs

Illustration by Pierie Korostoff

published October 9, 2015

In October of last year Governor Lincoln Chafee unveiled his design for a new Rhode Island license plate. The simple proposal consisted of a dark blue background with a small golden silhouette of the 1903 America’s Cup winning sailboat and the words “Beautiful Rhode Island” in a slick font.

Current Governor Gina Raimondo, replacing Chafee after the 2014 elections, is not satisfied with the design. In fact, she has much loftier aspirations in mind and has decided to put Chafee’s license plate proposal on hold in favour of something far more ambitious. Raimondo recently introduced her plan for a total rebranding of Rhode Island’s image. “If we are going to do this, we’ve got to be all in,” said Raimondo, who is hoping that a fresh image will attract more tourism and business to the State.

The State is devoting $4.5 million to this complete makeover, which will be headed by three different firms. One of these firms, Milton Glaser, is responsible for the iconic “I Love NY” campaign of the 70s. Local creative firm EpicDecade is interested in the community-building potential that such a moment offers. Founder Seth Goldenberg mentioned the possibility for forums and events around the State, advocating for the exciting potential of “public discourse about the future.”

This is not the first time that the nation’s smallest state has decided to rebrand itself. A 1981 campaign under governor Joe Garrahy attempted to do just that, conjuring up the motto “the biggest little state in the union.” Indeed, beyond merely changing the State’s license plates and welcome signs, Raimondo’s campaign is driven by a desire to redefine Rhode Islanders’ image of themselves. Hopefully this new image is something brief, catchy, and easily stamped into metal.

In honor of the State’s forthcoming marketing campaign, the Indy offers some possible license plate designs for the new Rhode Island.

JAMIE PACKS B’17 is riding dirty.