We’re unveiling a new logo today for the Maryland Department of Planning. It’s the first change in the agency’s logo in about a dozen years. It was created by the agency’s graphic designer Mark Praetorius. We hope you like it.We recognized even before contemplating a change that logo revisions are delicate surgery. News stories this summer about new logos being made by New York taxis, Microsoft or TexasMonthly were reminders that what Isaac Newton declared about physics could also hold for changing an organization’s symbol: Every change brings an equal and opposite reaction. Some may regard a logo as mere decoration, but revising or replacing one that’s been around for a while isn’t for the squeamish. We proceeded, however, driven by a desire to refresh and streamline our look.

The previous MDP logo was one of the longest lasting among Maryland state agencies. It was designed under the direction of now state Senator Ron Young when he was the agency’s assistant secretary during the administration of Governor Parris N. Glendening.

It replaced a logo that existed only a few years while the agency was known as the “Office of Planning.” Prior to 1988, no logo existed for the agency, which originated in 1959 as one of the first state planning agencies in the country. The Maryland state seal was used during that period.

The new logo maintains the use of the state’s primary colors — black, gold, red and white. The black and gold in the state flag derive from the coat of arms of Cecilius Calvert, founder of the colony of Maryland. The red and white is from the coat of arms of the Crossland family, the family of Calvert’s  paternal grandmother. (A 2001 survey, by the way, judged Maryland’s flag fourth best among 72 flags in the U.S. and Canada, behind New Mexico, Texas and Quebec. Not shabby, although we believe it deserved to be first (like the Orioles and Ravens.)

MDP Secretary Richard E. Hall unveils new logo

The new logo conveys the outward focus of the department across the entire state by planners, preservationists, archivists and archaeologists. The four lines represent the four cardinal directions as used in mapping. They also evoke the grids and measurements that are integral to the work of planners and designers.We’re also adding a tagline with the new logo: Sustainable_Attainable. It sums up the nature of all of our efforts, whether working to help ensure the endurance of historic properties or natural resources or existing communities. When employees were asked to describe the desired outcome of their work in a recent questionnaire to help develop a new mission statement, the adjective “sustainable” was mentioned as much as any other. “Attainable” is hopeful, aspirational — if we all work toward the goal of sustainability, we believe we can “attain” it.