Can this be the ultimate logo for Brooklyn? When the landlord of the building that displays the long defunct KenTile Floors sign in Brooklyn prepared to take down the old sign, neighborhood residents protested. For the past 50 years the sign has been in place hovering eight stories above the former factory and scrapyards by the Gowanus Canal. Organizer Stephen Savage says, “Like any well-designed logo, it’s a source of identity and pride.”
“That sign is real Brooklyn, not hipster Brooklyn,” says a long-time Brooklyn resident. “When I see that sign it feels like home.”
KenTile Floors was one of America’s largest manufacturers of super-resilient floor tile, and it was a national tile distributor. KenTile eventually went bankrupt in the 90s after numerous claims that they sold products that contained as much as 25 percent asbestos. Yet, the brand associations with the large red lettered sign are so strong that Brooklyn residents still hold passionate feelings for it.
Steven Savage writes in his letter to the New York Times, “The magic of the sign is that the viewer assigns his or her own meaning to it. Funny how art works that way.” This is just what author Blake Gopnick means when he says, “Brands depend upon what WE THINK THEY ARE.” Designers and brand communicators must remember that brands live in the hearts and minds of the audience.
According to the New York Times, The building’s owner, Elyahu Cohen, said that the sign’s steel structure was rusting and crumbling and needed to be scraped and repainted. The building beneath the sign was damaged by Hurricane Sandy. The KenTile sign is coming down, but Cohen has agreed to donate the sign to the Gowanus Alliance, and a new location will be found to reinstall the sign. Cohen told the Times, “We love the sign, and we heard the voices of so many community members. We will work hard to preserve the letters during removal.”