Raleigh invested in the design of a new logo — and it cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars.
Prior to implementing the new logo, Raleigh’s city government used a seal depicting a stylized oak tree surrounded by garlands for all city branding. The new logo portrays an oak tree of various green shades with rounded and blocky leaves.
Joseph Cabosky, professor in the UNC School of Media and Journalism, said logos give cities a brand, which is important to entice corporations, new residents, new talent and labor.
"Cities generally want to attract businesses but also want to attract employees who want to go and find a new home," he said.
Damien Graham, spokesperson for the city of Raleigh, said the city was struggling from extreme fragmentation, and the goal was to create a logo to unify the city's brand image.
“As you might imagine, we have 20 different businesses within the businesses or departments within the city, and each one of those different departments has different divisions within it, and all of them had a different logo, a different color scheme, a different font, a different iconography that they used to communicate their services,” he said.
He said Raleigh will continue to use the seal for official capacities, such as a new policy or ordinance the city council approves.
Mary Ann Bitter, staff member of The Assembly, a local design firm that contributed to designing Raleigh’s new logo, said in an email the city promised to implement a communications policy and plan to tell Raleigh's story.
"A cohesive brand platform will enable the city to simplify, unify and amplify the city of Raleigh's communication and story,” she said.
Cabosky said the two main challenges with this process are cost and perceptions of how that cost was used.
He said most people don’t understand why the city spent over $200,000 on this and question if that is an exorbitant amount or if the spending was worth the new logo.
Raleigh City Council members, as well as any representative associated with the implementation of it have the ability to communicate with constituents about why they chose this design and why they thought the cost would pay off, he said.
Bitter said the process happened over the course of almost one year.
“The Assembly conducted design discovery workshops where we gathered input from a variety of stakeholders, employees and community members," she said. "We shared, refined based on feedback and sometimes even started over — until we got to a solution that the stakeholders believe in and the city council voted unanimously ‘yes’ for.”
Graham said it’s important to tell your story from a municipal standpoint, which starts with having an image that people can quickly identify.
"If there's consistency in the way that we provide information, in the way that it looks and in the way that it is presented, that we have more consistent quality to our materials, it makes us more reflective of the community in which we serve," he said. "Which is a very professional, open and transparent community that expects the same thing from its city government."
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