Expert: District branding positive but Prague 10’s X “missed opportunity”

The Prague 10 district has just unveiled a new visual identity that works with various takes on the logo X, the Roman numeral for 10. This follows a similar move by Prague 3 some years ago, when it even started selling merchandise with a logo comprising three lines. But what is the value of this kind of branding? I put that question to top Czech graphic designer Pavel Fuksa.

Pavel Fuksa | Photo: Lucie Urban,  @urban_photographe

“For me the branding of Prague districts is somehow a positive and natural evolution of the city’s identity.

“We’re all familiar with the overall sort of umbrella branding for Prague, that well-known red square with four lines of Prague being written in different languages.

“But that serves as a sort of overwhelming, generic Prague branding.

“For me, Prague with its rich history has always been a mosaic of distinct districts and quarters, each with its own unique character and spirit.

“There were cultural, historical, social differences. and for me it makes complete sense for these areas to embrace branding. It reflects each neighbourhood’s identity. Prague 7, for instance, is well-known as being the art district.

“But this branding shouldn’t serve just as a label. It should be a reflection of the area’s atmosphere or character, in a way that’s accurate and meaningful.”

I guess Prague 3 was a kind of pioneer in this, when three years ago they came out with their rebranding. At first people made fun of their logo, three lines which some people said looked like lines of cocaine and so on. But ultimately was the rebranding of Prague 3 successful?

“Prague 3, for me, serves as some sort of exemplary model of both effective and simplistic branding which, on the same page, stays deeply rooted in the historical context.

“Prague 3 has been known historically as a district of workers, beer, art, with a sort of a playful nod to its slightly edgy reputation.

“And yes, the storytelling, the story behind that, invites people to explore the depth and diversity of the neighbourhood.

“For me this is a very successful and very good example of a branding of a particular neighbourhood that is totally independent of the sort of overwhelming umbrella Prague logo and branding, which I find somehow too rigid, or too generic, to encapsulate all of the shades and pieces that Prague consists of.”

Prague 10 has just rebranded itself as X, which may seem a bit unfortunate given that Twitter changed its name to X recently. But I was also thinking, Maybe the X symbol, which is so strong, is just too good not to use?

“For me this is and was a missed opportunity to capture the district’s, let’s say, unique identity effectively.

“The choice of the letter X as a symbol is somehow ambiguous to me, as it could be interpreted in numerous ways: From danger to restriction to less savoury associations, such as adult content. Or even a simple cross-out.

“And despite my interest in classical studies I personally didn’t immediately recognise the X as the Roman numeral for 10.

“For me this ambiguity somehow undermines all of those elements, such as clarity and immediate recognition, that a good brand symbol should have.”