MUSCATINE — Discussion of the community-wide logo and slogan for Muscatine continues with several petitions circulating and City Council choosing to hold a formal discussion during an upcoming meeting.
In response to the new proposed logo and slogan for use by the City of Muscatine and other community stakeholders, Councilman Allen Harvey said during last week’s council meeting, “I think it’s a poor example of what can be done for a city logo and I would be really opposed for the city to start using that logo on any of our official business.”
The logo is a blue and green stained glass pattern resembling a river scene with a tagline that reads, "Where the river takes a turn for the better."
“Any change we have is never going to be accepted widely,” countered Councilman Santos Saucedo. “It is what the majority of what the people that we had invested trying to do this two years ago came back with feedback and said, ‘this is the best that we have.’”
City Administrator Gregg Mandsager suggested that because the decision to create a new brand for the community was done with seven stakeholders, as many of them as possible should be present in a discussion with council before council makes a final decision about whether to officially adopt the logo and tagline.
At the request of council, the new logo has been removed from the city’s Facebook page and any news releases coming from city communications.
Another community familiar with the challenges of rebranding is Carbondale, Illinois, a city of roughly the same size whose government also hired North Star Destination Strategies to design a new logo and slogan.
“The City of Carbondale jumped the gun on branding,” Public Relations Officer Amy Fox said. She said the rebranding effort began in Feb. 2017 with phase I or the research portion of the project which included surveys and focus groups selected by community leaders, and a tour of the city by North Star representatives. The creative part of the project followed with phase II that included color palette and logos designed for the various community stakeholders involved with the project.
Fox said the group struggled to decide on a logo but ultimately chose one that was more abstract so it could be “used in other facets of the community.”
The city paid for the $98,000 rebranding project and had stakeholders participate in the interview and survey processes before each bought in to it.
The rollout of the rebranding, including the tagline, came in December 2017 at the State of the City address.
“If we would’ve held off a few more months, we would’ve been more successful,” Fox said about the roll out.
Fox said the city received a lot of feedback on social media regarding the rebranding, but "we're happy with it and we're going to continue to use it." The round, green and purple logo has crossed lines running through it with the tagline "all ways open."
“We’re trying to take the feedback we received and implement it in other things,” she said.
For example, the city will work with the community and a student organization at local Southern Illinois University to design a Halloween event this fall.
While the consulting process was similar between the two communities, Fox doesn't recall a resident starting a petition like the one by Muscatine's Mary Beveridge. Her petition is asking for council to reconsider the branding effort and allow residents to vote on the final logo and tagline for the city. She believes the $16,000 the city paid of the total $88,000 project was wasted.
"I haven't heard anybody in favor of the rebranding," she said, "I haven't heard any opposed to any opposition."
Receiving pushback to new branding isn't new, according to Founder and CEO of North Star Don McEachern.
"Logos are pretty subjective," he said, "invariably someone isn't going to like it — that's typical."
McEachern stressed that the work his company did for the city isn't just about the logo and tagline, it's about the brand narrative and he encourages residents to read it to learn more about the work that went into both designs. He said most organizations are working together to speak about Muscatine.
"I look forward to watching it go to work," he said.