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Thread: Town logos and marketing

  1. #1
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Town logos and marketing

    What is the role of the Town logo regarding marketing the town itself on an economic development basis.

    The mayor was in the office today saying that our logo is from the 70s and looks "Hokey." There were too many opponents to changing the logo when it was last brought up as it was proposed by a promenent and influential local business owner (who really ran the town when he was alive).
    Well, since his passing, the town has changed a bit, but the logo remains the same.

    I know private business looks at logos as a marketing tool, but I wonder if what they think when they see town logos while on the hunt for new locations.

    What do you think?
    I was going to use this as part of my economic development projects, maybe a town contest for a new design. Then a vote by having people look for the Top 5 logos in the newly created town page in the local free newspaper, you know with local business/restaurant ads to look at on the same page....
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I had a similar situation occur that the mayor who designed the logo said it was time for a change. I decided we need a top to bottom branding and marketing strategy. So, I go find a grant and when I go to council to request matching funds I was told that our town seal should not be changed. I lose on a 4-3 vote. The kicker was the town seal was only a small portion of the plan and it was not even necessary to change but once word got out to the citizens all the council heard was how the seal represented them and the town they grew up with and we should not change it.

    My advice is to do a work session with council and survey some of the power players in your community before you invest a ton of time on it.

    I would avoid the contest, what if you get 5 designs that look like a first grader did them? You lose control over the process and could wind up with a worse logo than the one you already have.

    Your logo or seal is what people often first see and think about when they think of your town. Just like a company a municipality should have a consistent message and story that is told about the community, a story that is dictated by the town and not by others. This story should also help to explain why people should invest, start or relocate a business or their household to your community.

    An attraction strategy is deeper than a logo but if you are thinking that way you should try to make the new logo the kick off of a much broader strategy.

    PM me if you want more info.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  3. #3
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Excellent post. I apologize if this is an aside, but I've always been interested in municipal branding. Cluttered, primitive or old logos are often the norm in many parts of the country, often reflecting the limited design vocabulary of a region. When I lived in the Denver area, most communities had very professional logos and branding programs. In the Cleveland area, it's hit-or-miss; the affluent and more image-conscious 'burbs do it well, while more middle-class and working-class communities could care less. In the Buffalo area, it's non-existent; throw up the town seal or geographic outline with some Brush Script or other cliche typeface, apply it inconsistently, and call it the day. Here's the effort of Buffalo's most affluent 'burb ...



    I normally despise the "In the Netherlands, they do [something] right, but in the US, we do [that same something] wrong" cliche. Still, I've noticed that municipal logos in the Netherlands are almost universally slick, modern, and very well-designed, and the municipal Web sites equally so. I really couldn't find a truly bad logo for any Netherlands municipality.



















    Generally speaking, run-of-the-mill communities in Canada, Australia and the UK also seem to be ahead of their peers in the US when it comes to municipal branding. Many communities in the US are still fond of basing their branding on old municipal seals, many of which include archaic industrial symbolism such as gears, smokestacks, steam locomotives and so on, or cliches such as county courthouses, oak trees, pioneers, wagons and carts, and the like.

    My advice: avoid feel-good logo contests (as Brocktoon said, avoid farming it out to a local high school or community college Web/graphic design class, and avoid the usual cliches and feel-good themes. Consider having a pro do it, and not Mabel down the street that designed a Geocities site dedicated to her dead cats. Also, if you have a municipal flag, make sure it doesn't include any wording or lettering whatsoever.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Cyburbian amyk's avatar
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    Anchorage just went through a branding campaign over the last year. Our Municipal logo wasn't changed, but the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) sponsered a contest through donated funds to generate a new slogan and logo for Anchorage. Over the years, Anchorage has gone through a handful of slogans (our last being "Wild About Anchorage" featuring Seymour, the tap dancing moose), and apparently it was time for something new. We did solicit input and the results have been incorporated into a national campaign to attract visitors to Anchorage.

    Information about the branding contest,the process, and media releases can be found at http://www.bigwildlife.net/brand.html.

    http://www.bigwildlife.net/ is the main webpage dedicated to the new slogan, and the ACVB web site is http://www.anchorage.net.

    http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2...6-31788432_ITM. This is a random article I found online that gives some more information about the branding contest and process.
    "That's the difference between me and the rest of the world! Happiness isn't good enough for me! I demand euphoria!" ~Calvin and Hobbes

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    I forgot to mention the slogan. Avoid a public contest as well. If you work for a small and "historic" community you will see a looking back and looking forward slogan...for example "Preserving our past while building our future."

    This is not to say that a high priced consultant gets it right all the time. Peoria, AZ spent $80k and got a slogan no one liked..."Naturally Connected."

    When I was starting my towns's branding campaign I said "if I do it right I will lose my job." This is a project where the mob...err...citizens should not have the final say. They should, however have as much input as possible during the development phase.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    When I was starting my towns's branding campaign I said "if I do it right I will lose my job." This is a project where the mob...err...citizens should not have the final say. They should, however have as much input as possible during the development phase.
    I'll have to remember that quote. The expectation that the democratic process will apply to a branding program could be why branding in the US tends to be on the primitive side; everyone wants to have their say. The results of design by committee are seldom very good.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    So, I go find a grant and when I go to council to request matching funds I was told that our town seal should not be changed. I lose on a 4-3 vote. The kicker was the town seal was only a small portion of the plan and it was not even necessary to change but once word got out to the citizens all the council heard was how the seal represented them and the town they grew up with and we should not change it.
    We have both a city seal and a city logo. Our city clerk only permits the use of the seal on official documents and on city vehicles. Here is our logo:

    Last edited by mendelman; 05 Aug 2008 at 2:38 PM.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Seabishop's avatar
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    We're in Ye-Olde-Town-Seal land. If the seal was good enough for Jebediah Jones, it's good enough for us.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    A couple of quick comments:

    - I agree with the others about the design contest - that sort of thing works in some situations, but not if you want to get something that looks professional to market the town for economic development.

    - I see a Town seal and a logo as very different things. A seal is for "official" documents; a logo is the representation of an idea for marketing purposes.

    - Logos used to market an area to visitors are not necessarily useful for marketing to businesses. Certainly there can be overlap, but the messages and objectives often vary.

    - Determine exactly what you are trying to accomplish before you invest a lot of time and money (especially if you are going to contract with a marketing professional!). It's one thing to create a new logo, quite another to develop a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy. Also, make sure you test-market the logo or slogan before you start using it everywhere. I've seen some real clunkers.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jmello View post
    We have both a city seal and a city logo. Our city clerk only permits the use of the seal on official documents and, for some reason, on city vehicles. Here is our logo:
    Brand of a branding strategy is the proper use of the logo and seal. If any department can slap it on any document, placard, sign etc then the image can be come cheapened and the message will lose consistency.



    When I think of Wilmington, I think of great beaches and an under utilized university that caters to co-eds from Ohio and Pennsylvania who want a tan as much as they want an Mrs. degree.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    I am not making this up

    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    ...
    - Determine exactly what you are trying to accomplish before you invest a lot of time and money (especially if you are going to contract with a marketing professional!). It's one thing to create a new logo, quite another to develop a comprehensive branding and marketing strategy. Also, make sure you test-market the logo or slogan before you start using it everywhere. I've seen some real clunkers.
    A couple three years ago, our local Downtown Alliance (DTA) contracted a series of branding slogans and campaigns for the CBD. If memory serves, they spent $80k on this effort.

    First out of the gate: Keep It A Secret, accompanied by an odd concentric oval graphic that's supposed to represent the local ice rink/ampitheatre. On Urban Planet, we referred to this as the "psycho olive."

    Here's a live map of the ice rink. http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=...cl=1&encType=1

    The second stage was Enjoy it now, gradually closing in on the notion that DT GR is sooo wonderful that pretty soon it'll be overrun, but some of us already know about it.

    They've finally implemented the third stop on this busline to hell: Let's Go, followed by another word such as eat, shop, play, downtown.

    Here's the Planet's thread so that Cyburbia can enjoy it too.
    http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/Do...ra-t24914.html Several years later, we'll be discussing a topic that's not getting the proper respect or publicity, and someone (often moi) will throw out the original abbreviation KIAS.

    In this case, a college marketing design class could have done much better.
    Last edited by Veloise; 05 Aug 2008 at 12:04 PM.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon View post
    When I think of Wilmington, I think of great beaches and an under utilized university that caters to co-eds from Ohio and Pennsylvania who want a tan as much as they want an Mrs. degree.
    Off-topic:
    Most think of our riverfront and historic downtown (the largest historic district in NC). None of the area beaches are actually within the city limits. The vast majority of the UNCW "co-eds" are from other parts of NC.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    Here's the Planet's thread so that Cyburbia can enjoy it too.
    http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/Do...ra-t24914.html Several years later, we'll be discussing a topic that's not getting the proper respect or publicity, and someone (often moi) will throw out the original abbreviation KIAS.

    In this case, a college marketing design class could have done much better.
    Oh, my. Great story - and some hilarious comments on the Urban Planet thread!

    Now I have to know: Is the Downtown Alliance actually using the crapola this company came up with??

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Mud Princess View post
    Oh, my. Great story - and some hilarious comments on the Urban Planet thread!

    Now I have to know: Is the Downtown Alliance actually using the crapola this company came up with??
    The DTA (whose staff lurks on the Planet) did use KIAS for a while. I think they sped up implementation of the enjoy it now component in part due to our scathing reviews. And Let's go. [whatever] has been around for so long that it seems to have become the only DT marketing slogan.

    On one of my interviews (neighborhood assn director) I mentioned my avid participation on UP and the KIAS debacle. The entire committee had a giggle over that, and one said that he was acquainted with someone at the marketing firm who came up with that brilliant ($80k) idea. If memory serves, he allowed as how it was intended as a joke...but the DTA loooved it.

    The DTA has made other errors, like having a web design class create their website. For a long time it was a dark, edgy, reversed-out photo of our beautiful vintage buildings, made to look scary and awful (only lacking some dripping blood lettering to complete the effect). They finally brightened it up.

    Incidentally, UP formed a DT Retail Taskforce (another thread on UP) and we requested a meeting with the DTA. Several of us offered (volunteered) to help market the empty storefronts, spruce them up, etc. (I have promotions and sponsorship experience; offered to help with their DT flower bed efforts. Passed them my biz card, the one with marketing spelled out on it.) That call/e-mail never came.

    [yes, I do other things besides deface the landscape with big @$$ ugly cell towers]

  15. #15
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Interesting... I amm beginning to lean agianst a town volunteer logo making contest. There is too much of a disparity between the "old guard" (original 106 or so residents) and the remaining apathetic bedroom community inhabitants to get much of anything.

    While the town is financially sound (one of the few in America it seems), I doubt that $80k* could be appropriated for such a redesign.


    *-$80k? Good lord, that's a lot of money. These graphic designers must think quite highly of themselves...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    To just design a logo, I would normally budget $3000-5000. Of course, given the escalated pricing in Colorado, add 50% to that. If you want more of a branding campaign, then add another $15000-20000.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    Interesting......
    While the town is financially sound (one of the few in America it seems), I doubt that $80k* could be appropriated for such a redesign.


    *-$80k? Good lord, that's a lot of money. These graphic designers must think quite highly of themselves...
    For $80k, you get to hide your light under a barrel, i.e. Keep It A Secret. True PR and marketing costs less.

    Up is Down
    Left is Right
    etc.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Veloise View post
    For $80k, you get to hide your light under a barrel, i.e. Keep It A Secret. True PR and marketing costs less.

    Up is Down
    Left is Right
    etc.
    Did you get an implementation strategy along with it or was that a secret too?
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  19. #19
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    Our town seal used to be that of an Indian head (can't have that anymore ) as the town's name is the name of an Indian tribe. However, it has since been changed to an image of our community icon, the tower of the historic village hall overlooking the river valley. Personally, I think it's very cool and much less-primitive than the Indian head, which was way out of date. I think the river valley and historic building is more representative of the town anyway. Now, my high school changing its name and logo from the Redskins, I have an entirely different opinion about, as that was done merely for PC reasons, not because it was out-dated.

    However, we use a different logo for economic development, which now almost entirely consists of marketing our business park. This is more corporate-looking. It's very simple, but it's very crisp-looking and seems to work just fine.
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
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  20. #20
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    To just design a logo, I would normally budget $3000-5000. Of course, given the escalated pricing in Colorado, add 50% to that. If you want more of a branding campaign, then add another $15000-20000.
    We are lucky to have an in-house graphic designer who created the city logo, as well as the logo of the breakaway transit authority. She's great to have at our disposal, especially when it comes to negotiating with printers.

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    Great idea to attract tourism and give cities and towns a new sense of place, just do not pull a Toronto.. We spent millions of dollars and came up with the "Toronto: Unlimited" logo which, really, I could have come up with in grade 5.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    Just out of curiosity, has there been any research done on whether branding really works to increase business investment or entice people to move/go to college in any given city? I agree that a city needs some sort of seal but the idea of a logo representing something as complicated as urban fabric rubs me the wrong way. Even logos for downtowns get me, but maybe I'm alone on that one. Anyway $80k seems like a lot to spend on anything intangible like a logo or slogan.

    Edit: Okay, the 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' ads are pretty genius.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Let's Go. Out.

    A few posts north of this one, I described GR's downtown marketing effort.

    Seems they have a YouTube presence. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sXPbgy9l0U

    Hey, who's that at 2:09 - 2:11??

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    Just out of curiosity, has there been any research done on whether branding really works to increase business investment or entice people to move/go to college in any given city? I agree that a city needs some sort of seal but the idea of a logo representing something as complicated as urban fabric rubs me the wrong way. Even logos for downtowns get me, but maybe I'm alone on that one. Anyway $80k seems like a lot to spend on anything intangible like a logo or slogan.

    Edit: Okay, the 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' ads are pretty genius.
    I doubt it. Trying to determine if investment was made in a community was the result of a logo or marketing effort is difficult. Branding is more than a logo and slogan it is about defining what your community is and how you want it perceived. A story is always being told, the question is are you telling it or is someone else? As the old saying goes, "perception is reality."
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  25. #25
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    The seal of our county is nice. Displays the history and beauty of the county - it has mountains and trees, rivers, a miner working a miner's cradle and a beaver sitting on a log watching him.

    Helena brought in a consultant to discuss branding. Helena has been known for years as "The Queen City of the Rockies," which I have always liked. The consultant came up with a few suggestions - "The Best Small Arts Town in America” was one. Now they are going with "The Learning Center of the West," which isn't really going to draw people in and does not ring true. The city has a small private college, a satellite university branch and vo-tech, and the Archie Bray Foundation, which is a internationally renown ceramics arts center. Bozeman or Missoula could claim to be learning centers too.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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