by Rob Marsh
Every Friday (with a few exceptions) we take a look back at the logo design news from the previous week and share a few thoughts about what’s been going on. This week, we saw a bunch of new logos for small towns. We’ve shared our thoughts about this subject a few times before, but it never hurts to do it again… after all, nobody seems to have listened the first times, maybe they’ll listen this time.
Let’s start with the new logo for Forsyth County, Georgia. This is pretty typical of the kind of design small governments go for. Simple depictions of life away from the city. They often include trees, water and mountains. Colors tend to be blue and green. This particular design includes all of the above, plus a small family in silhouette. It’s exactly the way the residents envision their community. So when they see the logo on county trucks or the water bill, they think, yeah, that’s my county. This logo isn’t awesome, but it does the job it’s supposed to do.
The trouble happens when a community unveils a new logo for the purpose of attracting visitors as Seminole County commissioners did this past week. With just a few exceptions, logos simply aren’t powerful enough on their own to attract tourists. In this case, Seminole County is adding Orlando North to their name in order to associate themselves with their more famous neighbor to the south. When a government official says something like, “With the new logo, Seminole’s goal within the next three years is to lure an additional 62,000 annual visitors into the county.” Um, no. That’s not what logos do. Especially when you tick off your residents who like being part of Seminole County and don’t think of themselves as part of Orlando.
Worse, some small town mayors seem to think a new logo can change a bad reputation. Mayor Danny Shaw of Bono, Arkansas unveiled a new, poorly designed, logo this past week and in the process said, “Bono has had some bad press in the past. Some unfortunate things have happened that have made it on the news, and I’m trying to do anything we can do that would put Bono in a better light, positive light, and make the citizens more proud of their town.” That’s like putting a new coat of paint on a rusty truck. And this lousy logo isn’t going to help anyone get good press. The logo may be new, but the town (and more importantly, the town’s reputation) hasn’t changed. If the problem wasn’t the old logo, a new logo won’t do much to fix it. And this logo in particular won’t help.
On the other hand, there are example of community logos that are better than others. Take the new “Made in The Santa Maria Valley” logo. Intended for area businesses that make products, this is a good way to use a logo design to bring attention to a particular area. Residents may be more inclined to purchase local products—and outsiders who have a positive opinion of the area may buy too. No outsized expectation of new visitors. No attempt to cram every local attraction into the design. Just a simple design with a very distinct purpose—state where the product came from. We can live with that.
When it comes to destination branding, larger communities have a big advantage. Besides already being better known (and attracting more visitors) they also have bigger budgets. Compare the new logo for Queenstown New Zealand, which cost $59,000 to Santa Maria’s $400 design. Money buys you professionalism and sophistication. Does that mean people will visit Queenstown because the logo is so nice? Not at all. But a good logo does act as a memory device to which people can attach positive feelings associated with the town. Then, when they see the logo later, they remember those feelings.
Okay, enough of that rant. What else did we notice? How about this clever logo design for Legal Aid of Western Missouri. Attorney logos are typically boring and traditional. This logo walks a nice line between clever and creative and lawyerly, using the LA to create an icon balancing the scales of justice. And a very simple typeface to go along with it. We like.
And one of the lamest logo stories of the year. Incredibly lame art teacher copyrights the logo he designed for the school than demands $65,000 for the rights. Jerk.
Over the years, our favorite new logos are undoubtedly for minor league baseball teams. And every once in a while a lower league hockey team joins the ranks with an interesting logo design. This week we saw a new logo for the Swamp Rabbits (formerly the Road Warriors). The name and logo are great improvements. We really like the carrot/hockey stick. A nice detail.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.