Council in no hurry on logo; Discussions, potential contest may be delayed until at least fall

Published 11:07 am Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Austin City Council is letting its city logo issues die off.

Austin-logoThe council informally decided during its Monday work session to not pursue a community logo contest for the time being, preferring to wait either until the city’s website is redesigned or, as some council members would like, to drop the issue for this year.

Council Member Roger Boughton said he hoped the council wouldn’t address it for eight to nine months after the public’s overwhelmingly negative reaction to a proposed city logo created by a branding committee under Vision 2020, the community improvement initiative. The committee hoped to create a new logo for the city as part of a larger brand campaign to attract more people and businesses to Austin, but council members voted down the widely-discussed “talent packed” logo on April 7.

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“Let it rest for a while,” Boughton said. “If you want to start it over later, that’s fine, but after all the reaction I’ve heard from the community, let it rest for a while.”

Council Member Janet Anderson had said she hoped to put together a guideline for a proposed community logo contest by May, but council members appeared uninterested in moving forward that quickly. Anderson said she wanted to move forward on the issue after the council and Mayor Tom Stiehm publicly expressed interest in opening the process to residents.

Several council members said the reaction to the so-called “talent packed” logo showed many people already liked the city’s tree logo, which was created in 1991.

“There was a lot of support for the tree from the citizens,” Council Member Judy Enright said.

Boughton was concerned the city could hurt Vision 2020’s efforts by continuing to push the logo issue.

“We could hurt the Vision 2020 brand,” Boughton said. “You don’t want to do that with all the things going on.”

Stiehm previously said he believed the city should finish its website redesign first before tackling a community poll on a new logo. The redesign could wrap up as soon as this fall, Stiehm said in the meeting.

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.

The unveiling 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.