The State of Branding: Massachusetts (From Massachusetts Flags to Massachusetts Brands)


State of Branding Massachusetts cover image


24 min read

The next location on our great state of branding trip brings us to the state of Massachusetts, where we will be stopping to admire everything from various city flags, to sports team branding, to tourism branding.

You might be wondering what this series is about given the name…

The idea behind these state of branding posts is to spotlight various different branding examples that are exclusive to a specific area – in this case, that area would be Massachusetts, and three of its biggest cities.

If you’re only catching up with us now, know that we have already covered many states on this state of branding tour. Feel free to check those out at your own convenience:

We are a global creative agency and are always looking for inspiration from anywhere we can find it. In other words, these posts are just as informative for us as they are for you.

Slightly off-topic, but before writing this post, I had no idea that Boston was famous for baked beans, or that Worcester has a deep history with industrial manufacturing.

You’ll have noticed that Boston, Worcester, and Springfield have all been mentioned directly. This is purposeful as we’ll be looking at specific branding examples from each of these cities once we’re done looking at the state as a whole.

Now, let’s get going.

Massachusetts Branding

Population: 6.8 Million
Capital City: Boston
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: MA

For consistency, we’ll start each section by looking at the flag and seal associated with each location before digging a little deeper into the brands that occupy each area.

However, for the state of Massachusetts, as a whole, it’s only right that we provide a lot more information – information on the key cities that make up this great state, and key facts that help emphasize the uniqueness of The Bay State.

Some of this information might not be new to you, if that is the case feel free to skip. That said, there’s nothing wrong with needing a refresher.

massachusetts flag blowing in wind

Massachusetts Flag

Unlike some of the other states covered in some of our other state of branding posts, Massachusetts has three official flags:

  1. The state flag
  2. The governors flag
  3. The naval/maritime flag

Design-wise, the Massachusetts state flag is one of three state flags to feature a Native American, who can be found within the navy blue shield, holding a bow and arrow that has a white star above it in the top left-hand corner.

The white star is there to signify Massachusetts as a US state, similar to the flag of Texas and many other states that feature this five-pointed shape.

Above the shield is the state military crest which takes the shape of a bent arm holding a broadsword. The sword is up, to remind people that it was” through the American Revolution that liberty was born.”

Needless to say, this flag has been heavily criticized.

Please note: Last year, the governor of Massachusetts signed a bill that would change the state flag and seal. As of this writing, the redesign is still incomplete, and the commission has asked to extend the deadline to 2023.

Massachusetts Seal

The Massachusetts seal is the same image found in the center of the state flag, for the most part, which isn’t to say there aren’t any differences because there are – the most obvious being the Latin text you see around the outside of the circle.

The text reads “Sigillum Reipublicæ Massachusettensis,” which means “The Seal of the Republic of Massachusetts.”

The most recent rendition of the Massachusetts seal was drawn by resident artist Edmund H. Garrett and was adopted by the state in 1900. Again, this image has been heavily criticized for its imagery and looks set to be changed.

ships in boston harbour

Key Cities in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is among some of the smallest geographical states in the U.S, despite that, it still ranks within the top 15 of the most populated states across the nation.

It’s also the birthplace of quite a list of notable individuals, such as John Cena, Uma Therman, Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, and Conan O’Brien, to name but a few.

Anyway, here’s a quick rundown of some key cities within the state:

  • Boston
  • Worcester
  • Springfield
  • Cambridge
  • Lowell

Boston is the largest city in the state and has nearly four times as many residents as any other city in the state – followed by Worcester, a city commonly referred to as the “Heart of the Commonwealth.”

Springfield (no, not the one from The Simpsons), is known as the “City of Firsts,” due to being the location of the first American-made automobile and its ongoing dedication to further innovation wherever it can.

Key Facts About Massachusetts

You may as well call the state of Massachusetts a state of firsts, given the number of things the state is known for creating – be it subways, chocolate chip cookies, post offices, and lighthouses.

Below you’ll find a bunch of key facts about this great state.

Reading on doesn’t have an awful lot to do with branding, we know. Still, we thought it was all worth highlighting if only to emphasize just how unique MA is compared to the rest of the US.

Plus, there are a few business-based stats in there for you to check out, too.

  • ’By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty’ is the motto of the state.
  • The nickname of Massachusetts is ‘The Bay State.’
  • According to some surveys, Massachusetts is the most educated state in the country, which should come as no surprise.
  • The black-capped chickadee is the state bird of the state.
  • Massachusetts’ name is taken from a tribe of Native Americans, with the name translating to “at or about the Great Hill,” “great mountain place,” or “large hill place.”
  • The state flower of the state is a mayflower.
  • The first college for higher education was Harvard University, founded in Massachusetts in 1636.
  • Dunkin Donuts opened its first franchise restaurant in Dedham, Massachusetts, selling around 52 varieties of donuts.
  • In 1926, the first liquid fuel rocket was launched by Dr. Robbery Goddard.
  • Massachusetts is one of the nation’s leading producers of cranberries.
  • Fig Newton cookies are named after the town of Newton, MA.
  • The first basketball game was held in Springfield, Massachusetts back in 1891.
  • In 1876, the first telephone call was made when Alexander Graham Bell summoned his lab assistant, Thomas A. Watson.
  • Salem, Massachusetts attracts a lot of interest for the 1692 Witch Trials where over 200 people were killed over fears of witchcraft.
  • There is a lake in Massachusetts named “Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.”
  • Massachusetts is home to the first American public library in Boston.
  • The first subway in America was built in Boston, Massachusetts in 1897 (the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority).
  • Chocolate chip cookies were invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband in 1930 in the Toll House Restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts.
  • The first American lighthouse was erected at Boston Harbor.
  • Massachusetts revolutionized the frozen fruit industry, with Clarence Birdseye developing the first freezer to quick-freeze fish and other foods including meat, vegetables etc.
  • Health brand Gillette is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • The population rank of Massachusetts puts it 14th out of all 50 states.
  • The first post office in America opened in Boston in 1639.
  • In 2003, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage.
  • Boston Common is the oldest public park in America, officially opening in 1634 and is a common gathering spot.

building in Boston

Boston Branding

Population: 694,295
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: BOS

As mentioned, it’s difficult to talk about Massachusetts branding and not immediately think of Boston. The capital of MA has such a rich history as one of the oldest municipalities in America.

Today, Boston is a hub for scientific research and educational excellence thanks to its many colleges and universities, most notably, Harvard and MIT.

The city is also a fantastic location to practice law, medicine, and various other business endeavors, as proven by the countless companies that occupy this great city. For reference, there are multiple Fortune 500 companies operating in Boston:

  • State Street
  • American Tower
  • Liberty Mutual Insurance
  • Gillette
  • General Electric

Boston businesses and institutions rank among the top in the country for environmental sustainability and new investment, which should come as no surprise given the quality of BOS’ educational system, institutions, and economic infrastructure.

Generally speaking, it’s also home to some picturesque city skylines. Any view overlooking the Charles River needs to be seen to be believed and is sure to be the desktop background of many who have visited this place for themselves!

blue boston flag

Boston Flag

The flag of Boston was originally used in the 1913 Columbus Day celebration and other holidays before it was officially adopted by the government in 1917.

The flag adopts the Boston seal (which we’ll cover in just a moment), only with a sky blue background that works really well, design-wise, when paired with the gold rim of the seal itself.

This blue varies in terms of tone. In some instances the blue is a lot brighter, looking a lot more turquoise in comparison.

In 2004, a survey conducted by the North American Vexillological Association (NAVA), placed the Boston flag 133 out of 150 city flags. In my opinion, that’s quite unfair when you compare it with some of the other flags (Miami comes to mind).

Many describe the flag as simply “a seal on a bedsheet.”

Would you agree, or do you share my opinion?

Boston Seal

The Boston seal is quite simplistic in its design. Designed in 1823, and later adopted in 1914, the seal consists of three main elements:

  1. A view of the City of Boston
  3. And the inscription “BOSTONIA CONDITA AD. 1630 CIVITATIS REGIMINE DONATA AD. 1822.”

The motto stands for “God be with us as he was with our fathers,” for those interested.

What’s interesting about the seal is that the above three elements are mostly untouched when you look at how this seal has changed over time.

If you go back and look at some of the earliest designs, you’ll notice that there aren’t that many differences. The only thing that really changes is the design of the city, and even then it still carries the same shape.

Boston Branding: Red Sox, Brewery, and Amusement Park

It’s about time we highlighted some of the brands that make the city what it is, starting with a bonafide dynasty in the sporting world of baseball. I’m, of course, referring to the Boston Red Sox.

boston red sox team players
Credit to ESPN

Boston Red Sox

For those that don’t live in the States, or have any knowledge of baseball, I can guarantee that you’ve heard of the Boston Red Sox, or have come across its logo at least once in your lifetime.

And that’s down to just how enduring the branding truly is for this baseball team, alongside its rivals the New York Yankees.

Why the brand is so popular could be attributed to the loyalty of its fans, many of whom don’t even live in Boston.

The Red Sox have successfully managed to brand themselves as a very spirited team, whose hard-working values can be felt across every touchpoint – from the logo, to Fenway Park, to its merchandise.

Here’s a personal example of what I mean:

I used to own a Red Sox backpack as a kid, despite never watching them play.

All I knew was that the team had that same working-class determination as other members of my family – my grandfather, especially. It was he who gave me the bag and told me “teams like this understand the struggle.”

And the funny thing is, even he hasn’t seen them play.

That’s the power of strong branding.

outside of samuel adams boston brewery
Credit to Brewbound

Samuel Adams Boston Brewery

A simple Google search for ‘Boston breweries,’ or ‘Boston beer companies’ will lead you to the homegrown Samuel Adams Boston Brewery.

There’s a lot to appreciate about this Boston brand – other than its positioning in the market. What I’d like to highlight here is the Samuel Adams’ brand story, and how it runs through everything they do as a business.

Samuel Adams is the perfect example of how to successfully brand yourself as an everyday brand, despite selling products across the world.

They do this in a very creative way that you might not expect from a brewery.

On the website they have a page (‘Brewing the American Dream’) which outlines exactly what they’ve been doing since 2008 to help emphasize the brand as a key member of the local community.

It’s not just a page on the website either. Brewing the American Dream is the brand’s community-focused initiative that supports local businesses through loans, advice, and dedicated programs for getting a business off the ground.

ariel vi9ew of mit university
Credit to MIT


You can’t talk about Boston branding and not talk about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in some way.

As a creative design agency, the logo of MIT stands out to us instantly. It’s a logo that is very simple on paper but can be adapted to fit various needs within the institution whenever needed.

It’s a logo we’ve talked about at length in a previous blog on school and university branding, which you should really check out to get our full thoughts on this!

Worcester Branding

Population: 185,421
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: WORC

Worcester is located near the center of Massachusetts and has a very strong history in manufacturing and industrial businesses.

Companies like Hanover Insurance Group, UMass Memorial Health Care, and the Rand-Whitney Group have all found great success in this area, and continue to surpass expectations from the looks of things.

The city’s popularity has grown by a massive 28% since 1980 according to some studies, with many flocking to the city to take advantage of its business opportunities, tourist attractions, and various other activities.

According to many residents and tourism websites, some of the best things to do in Worcester involve heading to the Worcester Art Museum, or spending time at Elm Park.

The latter happens to be one of the most beautiful parks in the US, in my opinion, having seen some of the photos.


Worcester Flag

If I had to choose my favorite Massachusetts flag from all the cities we’re covering, I’d have to go with this one.

The Worcester flag has heart, both literally and figuratively, in that there is a big red heart at its center. As mentioned, Worcester is known as “The Heart of the Commonwealth” so it should come as no surprise that this is represented via the city’s flag.

The heart is encircled by a green wreath, with an outer white ring running around it that reads:

‘WORCESTER, A TOWN JUNE 14, 1722, A CITY FEB. 29, 1848’

Like the Boston flag, this flag is 90% seal with that 10% difference coming in the form of the different colored background – which in this case is green. It’s very warming to look at, and arguably one of the best flags in all of the United States.

Feel free to challenge me on that via Canny’s many social media pages.

Worcester Seal

Heart, wreath, and personality, this seal has all of it in spades.

See the previous section on why we love the Worcester seal so much, given the seal is the main feature found on the city’s flag!

Worcester Branding: Coffee, Business, and Food

Worcester, MA is home to some fantastic local businesses that we’d like to spotlight, based solely on the quality of the branding.

Still, some businesses could really do with a rebrand. Take Inhouse Coffee, for example…

black and white image of in house coffee
Credit to Inhouse Coffee

Inhouse Coffee

The branding for Inhouse Coffee is the reason why so many local coffee chains come to agencies like Canny, to help them better reflect the uniqueness or quality of their company overall.

Inhouse Coffee might sell the cheapest/best-tasting coffee in all of MA, but you wouldn’t think it based on the quality of its website and logo.

For comparison, we worked alongside Kono Coffee, a client that wanted to test some visuals out for a brand with global aspirations. This project did not take long to complete, and the work we produced is some of our best as far as packaging designs and logo design goes.

Now compare this project to the branding of Inhouse, and tell us which you would rather purchase coffee from?

If anyone from Inhouse is reading this, do get in touch as we can rejuvenate your brand in so many ways.

outside of worcester business center
Credit to Worcester Business Center

Worcester Business Center

What we like about Worcester Business Center might surprise you if you were expecting us to talk about the logo or its messaging.

It’s the website that caught our attention. Certain font choices aside, the Worcester Business Center has a great website, one that doesn’t over-complicate the basics of what a company like this should have for a website.

It’s a) easily navigated, b) showcases the brand effectively, and c) makes great use of imagery wherever possible.

Websites should always be discussed whenever the topic of branding enters the conversation – the same applies to the marketing to some degree.


Because all three work in constant parallel with the other to help sell your company to others. And what this Worcester Business Center website does best is sell the brand and the company to others.

Would we change anything on the site? Sure we would, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a solid website, through and through.

inside of deadhorse hill restaurant

Deadhorse Hill

Branding yourself on social media is just as important as how you brand yourself across other digital touchpoints. This is something that Worcester restaurant, Deadhorse Hill clearly understands, given their consistency.

One glance at Deadhorse Hill’s Instagram page tells you everything you need to know about the quality of the food, and the overall tone they’re trying to set as a brand.

Again, this is one of those instances where you need to think of a brand as something much greater than the logo and the name.

It’s clear to us that Deadhorse Hill understands its place in the market and what it does differently, as shown through its image choices and tone in the captions.

Consistency sells in this instance, and what it’s selling is more than the food you see on the plate, it’s selling the brand to people who might have never stumbled across them before.

Props to Deadhorse Hill, and keep up the stellar work!

This brand is going places (plus, the food looks incredible, let’s not forget that)!

Springfield Branding

Population: 153,599
TimeZone: Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)
Abbreviation: SPFD

Sitting on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River, Springfield is the third-largest city in Massachusetts and goes by many names to residents and tourists alike:

  • The City of Firsts
  • The City of Progress
  • The City of Homes
  • A City in the Forest
  • And Hoop City

For those not up to speed with their Springfield knowledge, the city is known as ‘The City of Homes’ because of its Victorian architecture, and is known as ‘Hoop City’ since the game of basketball was invented in this beautiful city in 1891 by James Naismith.

This also plays into the ‘City of Firsts’ nickname, as a result. Speaking of which, here’s a brief list of various ‘firsts’ that Springfield is known for:

  • The Webster Dictionary was written in Springfield in 1831
  • In 1893, J. Frank and Charles Duryea designed the first automobile
  • WBZ was America’s first broadcasting station, airing live from Springfield
  • Springfield was the first US city to produce postcards for the government

The city was founded in 1636, and has certainly changed a lot over the years. Currently, the city is the largest in western New England, and boasts a string of gorgeous rivers that run around the outskirts of Springfield.

Business-wise, the fact that the city sits between Boston and New York City, makes it an ideal location for distribution, playing a significant role in the local economy.

It’s for this reason that in the early 20th century, Springfield became the largest producer in New England of commercially produced cakes and pastries!

springfield flag blowing in the wind

Springfield Flag

At first glance, the Springfield flag looks a lot like the Boston flag in its design. The decision to place a person in the middle of a circular-esque crest is bound to raise some comparisons.

That said, there are some key differences.

For example, the individual in the middle is St. Gaudens statue of Deacon Samuel Chapin, an early settler of Springfield, MA, who served the town as selectman, magistrate, and deacon before his passing in 1675.

The Springfield flag consists of blue, white, and gold colors, which give this very royal impression.

Text found on the flag itself reads:

“A Town May 14, 1636 O.S. Organized A City May 25, 1852,” which outlines important information about Springfield and its inception.

Springfield Seal

Surprisingly, the Springfield seal is quite different from the others we’ve covered in this state of branding post, in that it doesn’t feature within the flag itself.

No, in Springfield’s case, the city seal has its own shape/distinct features – both giving you a greater understanding of its history.

The only thing that is similar is the text that runs around the outskirts of the symbol, this reads:

“Springfield, organized a town May 14, 1636, O. S., a city, May 26, 1852.”

In terms of the differences, the first thing you’ll notice is the all-baby-blue color – that, and the various number of buildings depicted towards the center of the seal.

Unfortunately, the only recognizable landmark is the Armory’s arsenal building with the American flag above it (the image at the very top, just under ‘Springfield’). And by recognizable, I mean, what is still around to this day.

Some of the other images shown feature a train leaving Springfield’s first Union Station. The house on the lower right is the “Old Fort,” the residence of John Pynchon (and the first brick building in the settlement).

Springfield Branding: Museums, Ice Hockey, and Tech

There’s a lot to see and do in Springfield if you’re on the lookout for interesting activities and branding examples.

The cultural activities of the city are said to represent the city best, such as Springfield Museums – otherwise known as ‘The Quadrangle.’

springfield musuem outside
Credit to George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum

Springfield Museums

Springfield Museums is a cluster of museums and cultural institutions in Metro Center, on Chestnut Street between State and Edwards Streets.

The museums are known colloquially as ‘The Quadrangle’ and consist of the following attractions:

  1. George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum
  2. Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts
  3. Springfield Science Museum
  4. Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden
  5. Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History
  6. The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

All of the above-mentioned museums are branded under the same name, and even share the same website!

You’ll notice that there are six museums here, and that’s because The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum only opened in 2017 when the Quadrangle nickname had already stuck.

Perhaps they’ll change it to The Quintrangle in time?

Regardless, Springfield Museums are a unique example of how multiple sub-brands – or in this case, museums and institutions – can make up something a lot larger, and go on to find a great level of success.

techspring website homepage
Credit to Techspring


TechSpring is a mainstay healthcare company operating out of Springfield, MA. They’re an innovative brand in more ways than one, take how they brand themselves, for example.

This brand mission statement tells you everything you need to know and then some:

“The bridge between technology innovators and healthcare professionals, making it possible to prove value and bring better solutions to market. Faster.”

The statement you’ve just read is one of many examples of TechSpring emoting its innovative business model and value. Head over to the website and you’ll find more examples of optimized language fit for a healthcare expert.

Here are some of my other favorites alongside the brand mission statement included above:

  • Our business model is different… We execute on your priorities within the best healthcare Living Lab in the country.
  • Healthcare is at a crossroads, and the opportunities are boundless. But it’s going to take a different approach. TechSpring is positioned and ready. Are you?
  • Our innovation clients are leading companies and innovators investing in transformative healthcare product development.

Other parts of the branding match the quality of these statements and help separate TechSpring from some of its competitors, visually.

The logomark in particular is exceptional, consisting of a spring inside of a white circle. On the end of the spring is what looks like a question mark that has a circle on the end of it that exists just outside of the bigger circle.

Let’s try to unpack what it means:

  • The spring is clearly a play on the name TechSpring, and is meant to represent launching others by working with the healthcare brand.
  • The tick is a confirmation that working with TechSpring leads to goals (hence why it’s being launched by the spring.
  • And the dot existing outside of the bigger circle could represent the outside-the-box thinking that TechSpring employs when working with clients.

If anyone from TechSpring is reading this, how close am I?

springfield thunderbirds team players
Credit to Springfield Thunderbirds

Springfield Thunderbirds

Now onto the 2022 Eastern Conference Champions!

The Springfield Thunderbirds might be in the minor leagues of the American Hockey League, but the branding for the team could compete with the best of them.

In fact, if branding were a points-based competition, then we’d easily put the Thunderbirds in the top flight, without question, how could we not with a logo as strong, as intimidating, as memorable, and as great as this?

The logo itself consists of only a handful of elements; you have the blue eagle head and the sharp shapes that appear behind it that serve as both wings and as a pendant. It’s a very simple design in the grand scheme of things, but it works for a team in the AHL.

Plus, it looks great on branded tees, bottles, and various other merchandise.

We haven’t been paid to endorse the Thunderbirds, by the way, we’re just a sucker for well-designed sports team logos.

The State of Branding: Massachusetts (From Massachusetts Flags to Massachusetts Brands)

All good things must come to an end, and our state of Massachusetts post is no different. We hope you found this trip entertaining, insightful, and maybe, inspiring?

Which was your favorite city? Was it Boston because of the Red Sox connection? Or maybe you preferred the coffee in Worcester? And what about Springfield museums, do you like how it’s branded?

We’d love to know your answers to these questions alongside any suggestions for brands that we might have missed from this post.

Again, researching and writing these posts is quite an eye-opening experience, not just for me, but for all of us here at Canny who are always looking to strengthen our work in the ever-expanding world of branding.

Check out our work page to see some of our case studies up close. I’d highly recommend you look at Lulu Animations and TLR Global first (my personal favorite branding projects).

If you like what you see and would like to know how we can help you on your next project, simply get in touch!