Council to discuss new logo approach

Published 8:05am Sunday, April 6, 2014

City leaders and Austin City Council members will likely push for a new approach to a city logo at the Council’s upcoming meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday inside City Council Chambers.

A branding committee logo featuring the phrase “talent packed” may be partly or completely cast aside depending on the council’s discussion.

“There will be an alternate approach to the logo,” Mayor Tom Stiehm said.

After the logo was revealed, an overwhelming amount of people came out and opposed the logo on social media and on a Herald online poll. Stiehm and Council Member Roger Boughton said two weeks ago that residents gave them a lot of negative feedback on the logo.

Many residents decried the logo for its seemingly simplistic look and an emphasis on Hormel Foods Corp., Austin’s largest employer.

“I think it’s pretty generic,” Melody Yabandith said last week. “‘Talent Packed’ seems a little cliché.’”

The logo even attracted attention outside of Austin. The Minneapolis Star Tribune published a story on the logo this weekend.

The branding committee, a subcommittee under Vision 2020, spent more than a year working on the logo as part of a new brand campaign for Austin. Committee members Janet Anderson and Judy Enright, also City Council members, publicly unveiled the logo to the council on March 17.

Since then, the logo has spurred much discussion and public scrutiny over the logo, its cost and the committee’s process.

The branding committee hired Minneapolis-based Haberman Consulting to discuss how best to represent Austin and to design the logo for about $60,000. The city of Austin contributed $10,000, the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau contributed $10,000, the city’s Main Street Project put in $3,000 and The Hormel Foundation put in $35,000.

The committee sought public input in 2013 through an online survey and several public meetings. Haberman staff also toured the city and conducted interviews with random residents.

Vision 2020’s Director of Vision Creation Laura Helle said the committee’s My Three Words survey, which asked residents to describe Austin in three words, had 87 respondents. In addition, public meetings on the campaign drew about 100 residents total on Aug. 7 and 8. And Haberman interviewed about 50 people on the street during those public meetings.

The committee felt it had broad enough feedback to design the logo.

“It was nice information, and what was nice about it was it was so broad-based,” Helle said. “It wasn’t a small section of the population.”

The committee, along with Haberman Consulting, found one of Austin’s strengths was its diverse array of jobs and residents.

The last Austin logo was created more than 20 years ago and the city has several logos and phrases, including Austin’s title as “Spamtown USA.”

The branding committee presented the new logo and campaign emphasizing Austin’s innovative side to several groups, including the CVB and the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce.

Anderson and Enright said during the March 17 presentation that many people in those organizations reacted positively to the new logo. Chamber officials even suggested the “talent packed” portion of the logo. And Helle said the group heard from more than one person how a new logo should be modern and more clean-looking.

Stiehm said Friday the City Council may pursue a community contest or an online poll once the city redesigns its website, which could take several months. He stressed any action the council took would likely come with resident approval.

“I don’t see this council donating any money to this, that or the other firm outside of the city of Austin to come up with a new logo,” he said.

And the branding committee will wait for the council to adopt a logo before continuing plans for a new city brand campaign.

“We feel like the city is the key player,” Helle said.

Despite the negative response to the branding committee’s logo, both Helle and Stiehm remained positive about the committee’s efforts.

“To me, this was a positive process,” Stiehm said. “You can’t blame 2020 and the Council for trying this logo thing. Now we know what people want. So what we can do is show the city that we’re listening to what you say, so help us come up with something new.”


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