After 18 months of work by both a task force and outside consulting firm, the City of Brantford unveiled its new brand strategy and logo for the city.
Saying it was met with mixed reactions would be an understatement.
The logo and its slogan “Grand to Great” were revealed during a committee of the whole meeting on Monday and the reaction on social media was both instant and overwhelmingly negative.
Designed by JAN Kelley Marketing, the red and black logo includes an exclamation mark (touted as the universal sign for expressing greatness) and a flowing river making up the ‘B’ in Brantford (though some have mockingly written it as ‘!3’).
While city councillors were quick to sing the logo’s praises, the online reaction hasn’t been favorable.
Some called the logo outdated, others called it over-simplified and some just called it plain old bad.
It’s been compared to the Baskin Robbins logo and the unlucky number 13, while others dug up a free clipart graphic that had the same exclamation point-B combination.
But the city hit back almost immediately.
The economic development office prepared a three-page document of talking points that was distributed to members of city council to help them respond to constituents.
Brantford Mayor Chris Friel said much of the criticism online stems from misinformation, and he’s right.
Many thought that a reported $300,000 to $500,000 price tag was what Brantford paid the consultant for the graphic.
But the half-million dollar figure is actually a preliminary high-end estimate of what it might cost the city to change all its signage to a new logo and brand. JAN Kelley Marketing was paid just over $78,000 to draft the logo, brand and messaging package.
Another online complaint was that the consulting firm hired was based out of Burlington. The city was quick to point out that JAN Kelley had its roots in Brantford and the principals on the Brantford project both live in the city.
There is a full explanation of the work JAN Kelley did to develop the branding and logo online that the city is encouraging citizens to read. It’s available at http://TheBrantfordIdentityProject.ca.
But one thing the city cannot explain away is a seeming majority online that simply do not like the logo.
The Twitter mockery of the logo even landed Brantford on Yahoo! Canada News’ top stories list on Wednesday.
Has there been enough backlash to make council give the new logo a second thought?
The logo design was approved 9-2 at the city’s committee meeting on Monday immediately after it was unveiled (read: before any of the negative feedback could be noted by councillors). Only councillors Jan Vanderstelt and Richard Carpenter opposed the motion.
While the early indications from city hall are that the logo design will be finalized and approved at this coming Tuesday’s city council meeting, there is an opportunity here.
There are more people fired up and passionate about a municipal issue than the city is used to. This could be a chance to bottle some of the passion coming from a normally sedated citizenship when it comes to the decisions made in council chambers.
Taking time to consider the logo and branding further would show the public that council is listening.
Digging in their heels and approving the logo – with the potential for at least $300,000 in additional costs to roll it out quickly – probably won’t be forgotten by the citizens. Not with an election looming in October.