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MUSCATINE – Not everyone is on board with the idea of rebranding the city of Muscatine “where the river takes a turn for the better.”

“This is very problematic to me and not a good tagline,” Muscatine County Historic Preservation Commission member Mary Beveridge said during Thursday night's city council meeting.

“What does it mean anyway? I’ve heard many different meanings applied. And is it perhaps a negative statement? Does it mean we have a bad history or past? Does it mean we are better than other river communities? This tagline could be misunderstood and sends the wrong message.”

During the in-depth meeting, council members heard details of a community-wide branding and marketing effort presented by Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Greg Jenkins.

The project began toward the end of 2016 with a committee of representatives from the Chamber, Muscatine Power & Water, UnityPoint Health-Trinity Muscatine, Muscatine Community College and the school district brought together to address ways of getting people who work in the community to also live here.

A consulting firm from Nashville, Tennessee, was hired to compile information through surveys and focus groups of residents and people in surrounding communities on their impressions of Muscatine. The firm received considerable feedback and used it to create a profile of the city or its “DNA.”

Jenkins explained how the logo and tagline were developed from the research and how a variation of each could be used across the city to create a more unified message.

Beveridge shared her concerns about the branding — that the historic preservation commissions weren’t consulted, the idea wasn’t surveyed publicly, that she saw and that the new concept seemed to eliminate Muscatine’s unique history as a pearl button producer.

She was also concerned that the branding was handled by a consulting firm from another state, when it could have been done locally and at no cost.

“Why would you bring people from Nashville, Tennessee, to tell us who we are and where we live?"

Councilman Alan Harvey agreed with Beveridge that eliminating "pearl" from the city's identity was not correct.

"I was surprised and rather disappointed that nothing was mentioned about the string of pearls which has been a good tagline, I think, for Muscatine," he said.

But Councilman Kelcey Brackett thought the branding had a good framework.

"I think there was a lot of thought that went into it. I think it's very nice work and I like the direction it's going, but I also agree that we need to hold on to our history as well and utilize that, so you know I see it as a framework."

Councilman Osmond Malcolm wanted to see the city flag incorporated somewhere in the design. 

City Administrator Gregg Mandsager said that the branding effort was a community-wide effort that had a lot of input and he thinks the new logo and tagline honors the city's history and helps market it.

The city council will need to adopt a new logo and tagline before either is officially used by the city.

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