The State of Branding: Pennsylvania (From Pennsylvania Flags, to Pennsylvania Brands)

Amy New Headshot

Amy Johnson

screenshot of Pennsylvania

From the Pennsylvania flag, to Pennsylvania museums and tourist attractions, welcome to the next stop on your state of branding tour.

You might have noticed that we’ve been looking at branding across the United States for a little while now on the Canny blog.

In fact, we’ve already covered the states below so make sure you give these blogs a read:

In essence, these blogs are a complete (and varied) run down of different states within the US, including some of the main cities within each state.

This gives us the opportunity to explore branding across a whole host of different areas, whether that’s sports teams, universities and colleges, or popular tourist destinations.

And variety is what we like here at Canny!

The Branding Brief Template resource cover

The Branding Brief Template

From the Pennsylvania flag, to Pennsylvania museums and tourist attractions, welcome to the next stop on your state of br...

As a global creative agency, we’ve worked with brands across a range of industries from FMCG to recruitment, so we like to get our teeth into all things branding.

And when it comes to the US, and in particular, the state of Pennsylvania, you’re never short of brands to talk about!

With that said, shall we get started?
blue Pennsylvania sign on road

Pennsylvania Branding

Population: 12.79 Million
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: PA

To keep things consistent throughout the blog, we’ll be looking at the flag and seal for the state of Pennsylvania, as well as the 4 key cities.

However, for the state of Pennsylvania, we thought we’d also provide some useful information and top facts in case you’re curious to know more about this location.

Maybe you’ve never been to this state before and are curious to know more about it?

Well, stick with us, this section is for you.
blue Pennsylvania flag
Credit to Britannica

Pennsylvania Flag

If you’ve never seen the Pennsylvania flag before, then you’ll probably agree it’s quite grand!

Originally authorized by the state in 1798, the current design was enacted by law on June 13, 1907, and features a blue field on which the state coat of arms is shown.

If we explore this in more detail, the coat of arms displays a shield crested by a North American bald eagle, flanked by horses, and adorned with symbols of Pennsylvania’s key strengths—a ship carrying state commerce to all parts of the world, a clay-red plow (a symbol of Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources), and three golden sheaves of wheat (representing the fields and Pennsylvania’s wealth of human thought and action).

So as you can see, there’s quite a lot going on!

Aside from this, you’ll also spot an olive branch and cornstalk cross limbs beneath, both of which symbolize peace and prosperity.

There’s a great deal of symbolism and meaning behind the Pennsylvania flag, as every design element clearly represents something deeper.

The state motto, “Virtue, Liberty and Independence”, appears below in the red banners which adds a strong sense of unity to the design.

In 1907, the law specifically instructed that the field of blue had to be the “same color as the blue field in the flag of the United States. This draws a strong connection between the state and the US, and is immediately recognizable.
Pennsylvania seal on black background

Pennsylvania Seal

Unlike other seal states, the Pennsylvania seal has both an obverse and a reverse, which means there are two different designs – front and back.

After all, why have one seal when you can have two?!

According to the state’s website, the Pennsylvania seal was authorized by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1791, and is “a symbol of authenticity which verifies that proclamations, commissions and other papers of state are legal and official.”

The Secretary of the Commonwealth is the keeper of the Great Seal, and has the important responsibility of authenticating government documents, and proclaiming new law as enacted through its use.

Essentially, the seal is a stamp of authority and a highly regarded emblem for that matter.

If we start by taking a look at the obverse of the seal, there is an image in the center of a shield containing a ship under full sail, a plow, and three sheaves of wheat.

Now you might be wondering, sure but what does all of this mean?

These symbols represent the importance of commerce, labor, perseverance, and agriculture to the state’s economy, as well as several of its geographic components, for instance, Philadelphia represented by the ship.

On either side of the shield are a stalk of Indian corn and an olive branch which reflect Pennsylvania’s recognition of its past and hopes for the future.

On top of the shield you will see an eagle standing proudly, which symbolizes the state’s sovereignty.

The outer circle of the emblem contains the words “Seal of the State of Pennsylvania,” despite the state’s official designation as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

If we flip things over and look at the reverse side, there is a picture of Lady Liberty dominating Tyranny in the form of a lion, along with the words at the top, “Both Can’t Survive.”

It’s striking, powerful, and contrasts perfectly with the other side of the seal.
upshot of cities in pennsylvania

Key cities in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has 57 cities in total, with some cities being a lot larger than others.

The ones we have chosen to explore in this blog are what we would define as the ‘main cities’, and by this, we mean the cities that tourists to the area would most likely know.

Here’s a quick rundown of the cities we’ll be covering in this post:

  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Harrisburg
  • Scranton

Later in the post, we will look at branding related to each of these cities — like we have in the previous posts — so stay with us!

Outside of having large populations, all of these cities are known for a myriad of different things, be it art, business, nightlife or a mix of all three.

To help break up our state of branding rundown, we’re going to look at various branding examples from a range of sectors to give you a better flavor of what Pennsylvania has to offer.

After all, this state is so vast, and has actually been voted as one of best places to live!

But maybe we should keep that point for the ‘key facts’ section…

With that said, let’s take a look at some facts about Pennsylvania to give you more of an insight into this vibrant city.

Key facts about Pennsylvania

From being home to the very first computer, the first automobile service station, the first daily newspaper, the first zoo, and the first piano in America, Pennsylvania is a state of firsts! And there’s A LOT of them.

Check out the key facts below to learn a little more about this great state.

  • The first baseball stadium was built in Pittsburgh in 1909.
  • The first computer existed in Philadelphia in 1946.
  • The Chocolate Capital of the US is Hershey, Pa.
  • The first piano in America was built in Philadelphia in 1775.
  • The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in 1776.
  • The Philadelphia Zoo was the first public zoo in the United States.
  • The first daily newspaper was published in Philadelphia in 1784.
  • The first daily newspaper was published in Philadelphia in 1784.
  • The State College Area High School was the first school in the country to teach driver’s education in 1958.
  • For one season in 1943, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers merged to form the “Steagles” due to the loss of many players during WWII.
  • The founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn, named the state in honor of his father, Sir William Penn.
  • There are lots of celebrities from Pennsylvania such as singer Taylor Swift and actor Will Smith.
  • The state seal for ”The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” also called ”The Great Seal of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” is a two-sided seal.
  • Philadelphia is home to the cheesesteak sandwich, water ice, soft pretzels, and TastyKakes.
  • The Rockville Bridge in Harrisburg is the longest stone arch bridge in the world.
  • Pittsburgh is famous for manufacturing steel. Its professional football team is named the Pittsburgh Steelers.

lit up street at night in philadelphia

Philadelphia branding

Population: 1.58 Million
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: Phi

Philadelphia, or Philly as it is also known, is Pennsylvania’s largest city, and is best known for its rich history.

It is also home to the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in which Sylvester Stallone triumphantly runs up in the film “Rocky.”

So, if you’re visiting this city, the “Rocky run” is something you just have to do!

Aside from this, Philadelphia is a booming city which is bursting at the seams with opportunity. Whether you’re a young entrepreneur, start up business, or family, there are plenty of opportunities to get your hands on.

For starters, huge companies such as AmerisourceBergen, Comcast, Aramark, Lincoln National Corp, Universal Health Services Inc., Crown Holdings Inc., Genesis Healthcare Inc., UGI Corp., Airgas, and Toll Brothers Inc. all call Philly home.

However, all this buzz comes at a hefty price, but as it’s the 6th largest city in the United States, you kind of expect it!

To put it into context, if you’re looking for a nice one bedroom place to rent, you should expect to pay around $1,300 a month.

So, why else do people move to this city?

Aside from being the land of opportunity, it’s also renowned for its quality education as Philadelphia has some of the most well known institutions, including Temple and Drexel universities and the University of Pennsylvania.

We’ll be looking at some of these popular educational institutions below, so keep an eye out.
blue and yellow philadelphia flag
Credit to CRW flags

Philadelphia Flag

The flag of Philadelphia was adopted on March 27, 1895.

It comprises yellow-on-blue bicolor vertical triband defaced with the seal of the city.

The Philadelphia City Code defines the flag as “divided vertically in 3 equal parts, of which the first and third shall be azure blue and the middle part pale golden yellow” with the city seal on the center of the yellow stripe.

In terms of size, the flag is 10 feet long and 6 feet wide. The blue and yellow colors commemorate the original Swedish colonization of Philadelphia which draws a strong connection to its history.

One flag manufacturer who supplies flags to the city government stated that the shade of blue used is “UN Blue” which is the same shade used in the United Nations flag.

The coat of arms sits in the center of the flag, and was designed mainly by Colonel Frank Marx and adopted by the City Council on February 14, 1874.

From first glance, the Philadelphia flag is very effective combining a contrasting color palette of blue and yellow which makes the emblem stand out.
philadelphia seal on black background

Philadelphia Seal

You’ll notice the philadelphia seal is taken right from the Philadelphia flag as it is the centerpiece of the design.

According to the City Code, the city seal is:

“ARMS — On a blue field, a fess golden between a plough above and a ship in full sail below; both proper. CREST — A right arm, nude, embowed, couped at shoulder, holding a pair of scales; all proper. SUPPORTERS — Two females, standing full face, the one on the left side of the shield habited white and purple, crowned with an olive wreath; in her right hand a scroll, charged with an anchor; all proper; the one on the right side habited white and blue; in her left hand a cornucopia, proper. MOTTO — PHILADELPHIA MANETO.”

According to an attorney for the city, the supporters represent “Peace” and “Plenty” which is a very strong and powerful message.

Philadelphia branding: The Philadelphia Eagles and The University of Pennsylvania

Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into the Philadelphia flag and Philadelphia seal, it’s time to look at some other branding examples in this city.

From an eagle-eyed football team (more on that below) to an esteemed university, there’s a lot for us to talk about.

So, let’s get started!
philadelphia eagles logo
Credit to The Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles are a professional American football team based in Philadelphia.

They compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference (NFC) East division.

Established in 1933 as a replacement for the bankrupt Frankford Yellow Jackets, the sports team have won a number of titles and appeared in three Super Bowls.

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing.

The team has an intense rivalry with the New York Giants, and according to ESPN, it is one of the fiercest and most well-known rivalries in the whole American football community!

Without getting into which team is better (for any of you football fans out there), we’ll stick with exploring the branding – it’s much safer territory!

Being called the ‘Philadelphia Eagles’ it’s no surprise that their logo features a very dominant, almost angry-looking eagle.

This could be seen to represent competitiveness and ferocity which is needed to win a game of football. The eagle consumes much of the logo, and is set on a teal blue background. The color contrast is quite beautiful and it draws a lot of attention to the design of the eagle.

There is a look of determination in its eyes, and its beak looks as though it’s getting easy to steal the ball.

It’s a very powerful depiction and perfectly represents the aim of the game.
university of pennsylvania logo on black background

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university in Philadelphia.

By Ivy League, we mean those educational institutions that are well-known for their academic excellence and outstanding faculty. The Ivy League includes the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia, Harvard, Dartmouth, Yale, Cornell, Brown, and Princeton.

Established in 1740, it is the fourth-oldest higher education institution in the entire US, and is among the highest ranked universities in the world.

Often shortened to the University of Penn, the institution enrolls over 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 16,746 students each year.

It would seem fitting that a prestigious university would have a prestigious brand identity. And, it sure does.

Adopted in roughly 1932-1933, the shield or coat of arms of the University of Pennsylvania consists of three symbolic icons.

Firstly, the open books represent knowledge and learning which is what the university is all about. Then there’s the dolphin, taken from the center of Benjamin Franklin’s coat of arms, and finally the three “plates” which are taken from the center of the Penn family’s coat of arms.

According to the University’s archives, the color within the seal was chosen by a student representing the University in a track meet held at Saratoga, New York, in 1874.

The University’s trustees standardized the particular hues in 1910, noting that “The colors shall conform to the present standards used by the United States government in its flags.”
image of pittsburgh city at night

Pittsburgh branding

Population: 301, 286
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: PIT

The city of Pittsburgh is located at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, where they form the Ohio River.

In the mid 1700’s, the French Fort Duquesne was captured there by the British, and the site was renamed and shortened to Pitt.

In 1794, it was incorporated as a borough and then as a city in 1816. Moving forward to the 19th century it developed rapidly as a steel-manufacturing center, and The American Federation of Labor began there in 1881.

As the second largest city in the state, there are more than 150 industrial research laboratories in the surrounding area. It is also home to the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, and other well-known educational institutions.

In terms of why people visit this city, there is so much to see and do.

From a vibrant arts and culture scene, to lush green spaces, lots of visitors fall in love with this city and actually move here long-term.

And we’re yet to mention the number of breweries in Pittsburgh – now onto the good stuff!

In fact we’ll be exploring some of these breweries below in case you were wondering.
yellow and black pittsburgh flag
Credit to Pittsburgh PA

Pittsburgh Flag

Similarly to the Philadelphia flag, the Pittsburgh flag is a triband flag featuring three vertical bands.

However, in this design, there are two black bands and one yellow band in the center which encapsulates the city’s coat of arms.

The design of the flag has been credited as in 2004, it was ranked as the twenty-fourth best flag design out of 150 city flags by the North American Vexillological Association, and was the top-rated tricolor.

Well done Pittsburgh!

In tribute to the flag, all four professional athletic teams in the city in the sports of baseball, football, hockey, and soccer are black and gold and I think there’s something very powerful about that message.

The arms are based on those of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, who the city is named after.
pittsburgh seal on black background

Pittsburgh Seal

The basis of the Great Seal of the City of Pittsburgh is the family coat of arms of William Pitt the Elder, Earl of Chatham (1708–1778), who was Great Britain’s secretary of state during the Seven Years War (1756–1763) and later Prime Minister (1766–1768).

According to records, the original drafts for the design of the seal were lost in the Great Pittsburgh Fire of 1845. After such time, a man named Mr. Jones recreated the seal based on recollections of those who saw the original one.

There are four distinct symbols that make up the city’s seal which we’ll explore below.

First, is the black shield which is representative of William Pitt’s coat of arms – the inspiration behind the seal.

Within this black shield you’ll find three gold coins and a checkerboard banner (which looks very much like the police banners to me!)

The blue and white checkerboard design actually goes back to William Pitt’s family livery colors, which he wore in Parliament. On top of this, the checkerboard signifies a cloth where coins are placed so there is a great deal of meaning behind it – and we’re not done yet!

In fact, the banner also represents finance and commerce, so there’s a whole multitude of symbolism going on.

Sitting above the shield is a castle, and this simply signifies a city, or in this case, the city of Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh branding: Pittsburgh Pirates and Hopfarm Brewery

What do you think of the Pittsburgh flag and Pittsburg seal?

And how do they compare with the flag of your home country (that is of course, if you’re not from this wonderful city).

Well, now that we’ve explained the branding of both of these emblems, it’s time to look at some other branding examples from across Pittsburg.

From a professional baseball team to a quirky brewery (yep, we’re talking beer!), it’s a bit of a mixed bag.
pittsburgh pirates player
Credit to ESPN

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pittsburgh Pirates are an American professional baseball team based in Pittsburgh who were founded in 1881.

The Pirates compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division, and have won five World Series championships.

If we take a look at their branding, The Pirates have had a number of logo changes and uniforms over the years with the only real consistency being the ‘P’ on the team’s cap (representing Pirates).

This wordmark was adopted in 1948 and has continued to be a staple of the baseball team since.

Like lots of teams in Major League Baseball, the Pirates initially favored a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme through the first half of the 20th Century to represent the colors of the US flag.

However, they switched this up to a black and gold color scheme in 1948, to match the colors of the Pittsburgh flag.

Throughout the 1950s they also made quite a splash with the design of their team’s kit as they adopted sleeveless jerseys. Whilst they can’t take full credit for this being a new thing, (it started with the Cincinnati Reds), the Pirates helped popularize the look.

On top of this, they switched to a darker shade of gold and changed their caps from black to gold with a black brim, whilst also introducing a pullover nylon/cotton jerseys and beltless pants.

They were the first team to adopt such a look, although it soon became popular with many teams across the league.

So, when it comes to their branding, the Pittsburgh pirates certainly haven’t played it safe! But one thing that remained throughout these changes was the letter ‘P’, which always tied the designs back to the team.
outside shop window of hop farm brewery
Credit to Hop Farm Brewery

Hop Farm Brewery

We said we’d talk about some Pittsburgh breweries and we weren’t lying!

Next up on our branding lowdown is Hop Farm Brewery which is located in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

According to their website, their focus “is on sustainability and local sourcing while producing hoppy ales, farmhouse ales, sour ales and lagers” which is evident through their logo.

Featuring the brand name ‘Hop Farm’ in yellow, there are various green leaves underneath which the name rests on. This visually draws a connection back to the sustainability ethos of the company and is very fitting.

Both of the colors used in the logo (green and yellow) are also quite early and natural, which again harks back to what the brewery is all about.

Outside the shop, the signage rests on wood paneling which has connotations of the outdoors and natural materials, meaning the whole brand identity beautifully ties together.

As a brewery drinker, you will also enjoy a cold pint in one of their branded ‘Hop Farm’ glasses which adds to the brand experience even more.

There are various flavors of beer for you to choose from, so if you’re in the area and you’re feeling thirsty, make sure you stop by!
Pennsylvania State Capitol signage wtih capitol building in background

Harrisburg branding

Population: 301, 286
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: PIT

Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania and sits on the east bank of the Susquehanna River, 105 miles west of Philadelphia.

Today, it remains the hub of an urbanized area that includes places such as Paxtang, Penbrook, Linglestown, Hershey, Colonial Park, and Camp Hill, Lemoyne, Mechanicsburg, New Cumberland, and Enola.

If you’re wondering where the name comes from, then there’s quite a story…

The city was first settled by John Harris in the early 18th century, and to this day he is buried in front of Harris Mansion, located on the Susquehanna River.

Despite this, the city wasn’t officially founded or named until 1785 by his son (who was also called John Harris – just to make things more confusing).

However, the name lasted less than a year before it was changed to Louisburg in honor of the French king. Six years later in 1791 it was then changed back, and became Harrisburg which we know of today.

The story of the city’s name still isn’t over though as it wasn’t until 1819 that permanent government offices were built, and Harrisburg finally received an official city charter in 1860.

Harrisburg attracts many tourists every year, and it’s not hard to see why.

From a stroll across Riverfront Park, to a tour of the State Museum of Pennsylvania, the city is full of rich beauty and history.

So let’s dive in.
Harrisburg flag on black background

Harrisburg Flag

The Harrisburg flag is both simple and dignified, which is the exact aim of the design.

Featuring a blue field and yellow border, you can see the city emblem in the center of the flag which balances out the different visual elements.

The emblem consists of a white keystone (as Pennsylvania is known as the keystone state), with a red border, and incorporates the capitol dome which represents the city’s significance as the state capital of Pennsylvania.

Surprisingly, Harrisburg did not have a flag for quite some time until its invitation to the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition in the early 1900s. Here, Mayor Edward Z. Gross proposed a design contest for a flag, and The Harrisburg Patriot requested a flag that was both “simple and dignified”.

The original design was slightly updated in 1991, but maintains the same principle design with just a few minor tweaks.

An alternative flag with the City’s emblem also came into use after Harrisburg received the All-America City Award given by the National Civic League in 1984-85 and then again in 1990.

In terms of what this alternative flag consisted of, it used the same emblem in the center but also added circular All-American City designation. In fact, these designs can still be seen today as a logo on public trash bins in the city.
Harrisburg seal on black background

Harrisburg Seal

It’s important to note that the emblem used in the center of the Harrisburg flag should not be confused with the official Harrisburg seal.

Whilst they both feature the capitol dome, the Harrisburg seal boasts a much simpler color palette consisting of only blue and white.

The words ‘The City of Harrisburg Incorporated Mar.19.1860’ are positioned around the outside border to signify the year Harrisburg received an official city charter.

The word ‘Pennsylvania’ is also embedded in the inner circle of the seal to represent the wider state. The position of this wording follows the curve of the emblem which is very pleasing to the eye.

The minimalist, stripped-back tone of the Harrisburg seal is very fitting as it used to authenticate official government papers and documents.

Therefore, there is no need for the design to be overly-creative or busy as it needs to look professional and appropriate for use.

Harrisburg Branding: Hershey Bears and Susquehanna Art Museum (SAM)

From the Harrisburg flag to the Harrisburg seal, I hope you feel as though you know a little more about this city now.

We’re moving onto some other branding examples from across Harrisburg, including a Hockey team with a cuddly mascot, and a vibrant art museum.

Let’s take a look.
hershey bears ice hockey team
Credit to Hershey Bears

Hershey Bears

The Hershey Bears are a professional ice hockey team based in Hershey, a town situated 14 miles east of the state capital of Harrisburg.

The current Bears club has played in the American Hockey League since the 1938–39 season making it the longest continuously operating member club of the league still playing in its original city.

Now when it comes to their branding, you can’t be called the Hershey Bears without having some reference to the chocolate!

The primary colors of the Hershey Bears are dark brown, medium brown, tan, and white, although the team’s colors are often referred to as “chocolate and white” a nod to The Hershey Company and its products.

Similarly, you can’t have the word ‘bears’ in your team’s name without some reference to this furry animal…

Well, the primary logo for the ice hockey team is a medium brown bear, roaring while standing on a hockey stick centered above the ‘Hershey Bears’ wordmark.

The current home uniform for the team includes a white jersey with chocolate brown and tan striping and The Bears’ logo is centered on the front. The shoulder logos feature a stylized bear-footprint which is both playful and purposeful.

The away jersey is chocolate brown (again, thinking of Hershey’s products – YUM), with white shoulders and tan stripes near the bottom of the sweater. The current third jersey features a bear-head as the sweater crest and has a brown trim.
outside of SAM art museum
Credit to SAM art museum

Susquehanna Art Museum (SAM)

According to the website, “SAM is dedicated to encouraging and inspiring visitors of all ages to become more familiar with; knowledgeable of and appreciative of the art and culture that surrounds them.”

Their mission for anyone visiting the museum is to experience creativity through the visual arts.

By looking at the interior of SAM, this mission is very clear as every room provides visitors with an experience they will remember.

Whether that’s multicolored walls, or sensory materials, there are some truly extraordinary exhibits for all ages.

They also showcase work from the local, regional, national, and international artists to engage a wide and diverse audience. This means there is always a variety of exhibits on display which adds to the visitor experience even more.

In fact, the visitor experience starts before anyone has even stepped foot through the door.

The outside of SAM is something to take note of as it stands so grand in its surroundings. Featuring an almost old vs new exterior aesthetic, it drums up a sense of interest before you have even looked inside.

The entrance looks very traditional with two concrete pillars at either side of the door, whereas the other side looks more modern and abstract with silver paneling.
Scranton lake

Scranton Branding

Population: 76, 997
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: Scr

Scranton is the county seat and largest city of Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley. With a population of over 76,000, Scranton is the largest city in northeastern Pennsylvania, and is best known for being an urbanized industrial complex.

Like the city of Harrisburg, there is an interesting history and meaning behind the city’s name.

It is in fact named in honor of George W. and Seldon Scranton, who founded the operation that became known as the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Company in 1840.

Prior to being called ‘Scranton’, the area was known as Unionville, Slocum Hollow, Harrison and Scrantonia.

However, during the 18th century, a gristmill, sawmill and charcoal furnace were established along the Lackawanna River, and over the years, Scranton’s names progressed along with its landscape.

From a branding perspective, I think there’s something to be learned here when it comes to names. It’s important there is a meaning and sense of logic behind a brand name – fair enough, this point relates to the name of a city but the point still stands.

Many people choose names simply because they ‘like’ them without truly thinking about the purpose behind it. To help us explain this point further we’ve written a whole other blog post about naming your brand so go and check it out.

Back to Scranton.

Bringing things forward to the modern day, Scranton is home to a growing downtown business district and several educational institutions such as The University of Scranton, Marywood University, and Johnson College.

Aside from this, Scranton is also where the TV show, The Office, is based for any of you sitcom fans out there!
yellow and blue scranton flag
Credit to CRW flags

Scranton Flag

The Scranton flag is simple but colorful consisting of a navy blue and yellow color palette.

The emblem is divided into 3 equal parts and is separated by a ‘Y’ which adds a great deal of visual interest to the design.

In the top section there is a flower-like shape, in the lower-left section there is a fern leaf, and in the lower-right section there is a rotating symbol. The city name and incorporation date are also written in white around the yellow block which acts as a sort of border.

Overall, it is a clean, uncluttered design and it’s believed the inclusion of the fern leaf is to remind us that coal is a fossil fuel, as Scranton is known for being an industrial complex.

However, this hasn’t always been the design of the Scranton flag as the current design was adopted in 1966 as the city prepared for its centennial celebration.

Up until this point, a different flag was used which featured a white ground with a colliery in the center, a powerhouse with four smokestacks, and a locomotive.

However, whilst this did a grand job in representing the city’s past, it did not fully reflect the modern day and the promising future.

A lesson is to be learned here.

Your brand identity needs to be relevant to where you stand today. That’s why rebranding is sometimes very necessary, as your visual elements always need to reflect where your brand (or in this case, city) currently stands.
university of scranton seal on black background

Scranton Seal

Unfortunately, I can’t find a seal for the city of Scranton, but I can find one for the University of Scranton so let’s take a slight detour…

From the outset, I can’t help but think of a Church or religion when I see the Scranton University seal.

Embodied in a curved shape, with a shield and cross in the center, it’s not hard to see why.

If we explore the color scheme, the main colors of the shield are the traditional colors of the University – white and royal purple.

On the purple there is a horizontal silver bar, containing, in purple, a star taken from the seal of the Brothers of the Christian Schools and from the seal of Saint Thomas College, predecessor of the University, and two stacks of wheat from the obverse of the coat of arms of Pennsylvania.

The upper half of the shield emblem contains, in gold, two wolves grasping a cauldron which is hanging from a chain. Both of these are taken from the coat of arms of the family of Saint Ignatius Loyola, and they identify the University as a Jesuit institution.

Underneath the silver bar is a sun, which represents Saint Thomas Aquinas, the shining light of the Church and the Patron of the University.

There is also a crest (the golden cross) which symbolizes Christ – the goal of all educational activities at the University.

All-in-all, the University of Scranton seal is deep and meaningful, with each design asset representing its own message.

Scranton Branding: Scranton Knights and Johnson College

Now that we’ve covered the Scranton flag and Scranton seal, it’s time to look at some other branding examples in this city.

From a junior hockey team to a prestigious college, we’re mixing it up on the Canny blog!

So, let’s dive in.
Scranton Knights logo on black background

Scranton Knights

The Scranton Knights are a junior ice hockey team in Pittston, which is situated near Scranton (Pennsylvania).

Back in 2015, the Knights’ junior hockey organization purchased the dormant Dawson Creek Rage franchise (who had ceased operations in 2012) in the Tier II North American Hockey League (NAHL) and placed their Tier III franchise in the Eastern Hockey League into dormancy.

The organization also reactivated and deactivated their Tier III level teams numerous times, but plans to launch teams in the United States Premier Hockey League’s Premier and Elite Divisions, non-USA Hockey sanctioned leagues that operate similar to the Tier III level.

Now, enough about the history of the Scranton Knights it’s time to talk all things branding!

Their logo is quite regal which makes sense considering they have the word ‘knight’ in their team name.

Consisting of two horses standing up on their back legs with a shield in the center, it looks quite high-end for a sports team. There is also a circular crest in the center which adds to the majestic aesthetic even more.

Utilizing a stripped back color palette of black and white, this logo would be very easy to produce both digitally and in print. It’s also very easy to read the lettering on this emblem which should be the main focus, as this is what fans will recognise.
outside of Johnson college
Credit to Johnson College

Johnson College

Johnson College is a private technical school in Scranton, Pennsylvania and was founded in 1912.

Students here can earn degrees and certificates in 7 different fields, but some of the most popular programs include Health Professions and Related Programs, Mechanic and Repair Technologies/Technicians, and Construction Trades.

As a small educational institution, it only enrolls 416 undergraduate students. Boasting 44-acres, the campus includes classrooms, laboratories, and administrative offices. A cafeteria, resource center, exercise room, and gymnasium are also provided to complement the college experience.

The logo for the college is very traditional and consists of a white and blue color scheme.

The typography is also quite blocky and dense, with the words ‘college of technology’ sitting above the word ‘Johnson’.

Featuring a white background, this immediately draws your eye towards the name of the college without any fuss or busyness. Considering this is representing an educational institution, there is no need for it to be cluttered or overly-creative.

For anyone attending the college, there is also a range of branded apparel for you to get your hands on such as backpacks and bags.

All of these stay in line with the minimal theme, and display the logo in either a navy blue or gray color.

The State of Branding: Pennsylvania (From Pennsylvania Flags, to Pennsylvania Brands)

Have you enjoyed your tour of the state of branding in Pennsylvania?

We sure have!

From delving into the Pennsylvania flag and seal, to exploring Hershey Bears football team (and craving some Hershey’s chocolate in the process), we’ve looked at some fantastic brands from across the state.

It’s always interesting to see how different brands communicate with their audience, and the design choices they use to make themselves unique. Whether that’s a minimalistic color palette to communicate professionalism, or more fluid typography to communicate a friendly approach, every part of a brand should serve a purpose.

Delving deep into brands is what we do here at Canny.

We’ve worked with clients from Newcastle in the UK to the USA and we love finding out what makes each one so special. We work in partnership with each and every one of our clients to create something that truly captures their audience – and we can do the same for you.

Get in touch with our team today and let’s start building your brand together.


September, 2022

Hi, I'm Amy, Content Strategist at Canny. In my day-to-day role, I'm responsible for creating content that gets you noticed and makes you stand out from the competition. Naturally, I love writing and creating engaging copy that brings your brand to life.

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