Could Dunwoody’s notorious asterisk soon be omitted from the city’s logo?
The city’s 2017 proposed budget currently has $80,000 set aside to pay for a firm to create a new logo and slogan as part of a rebranding campaign – but city officials are wary of spending that much cash, especially after the controversial branding process of 2010.
At the City Council’s Oct. 10 meeting, Finance Director Chris Pike told members that because the city is readying to move into a new City Hall next year, it would make sense to conduct a rebranding campaign now so the new logo and slogan could be printed on new business cards, stationary, signage and other city materials along with the new address.
“If we were going to do a rebranding, this would be the most ideal time to do it,” Pike said.
Pike said the $80,000 figure was likely more than enough for what was needed to hire a marketing group. He also recommended the council discuss the topic more at its upcoming retreat early next year.
All councilmembers, however, expressed reluctance to commit that much money — or even any money — to rebranding the city.
“I’m not thrilled with the branding [costs]. We spent way too much on this last time,” said Councilmember Lynn Deutsch. She noted Sandy Springs just spent nearly $100,000 on its new logo and said there was no way she could support spending that much money for rebranding.
In 2010, the council, the Chamber of Commerce and the Conventions and Visitors Bureau of Dunwoody chipped in a combined $105,000 to hire a marketing firm to come up with a logo and slogan for the three entities.
The resulting logo says “Dunwoody” in blue accented by a lime-green asterisk. Beneath “Dunwoody” appear the words “Smart people – Smart City.” The original slogan was “Smart People – Smart Place,” but that had to be revised shortly after the logo was unveiled at a city music festival because city officials learned a city in Plano, Texas, used the same catchphrase.
At the time, a small but intense group of Dunwoody bloggers published criticisms of the original design. One popular complaint was that the logo looked like the Walmart logo with a yellow star and the slogan, “Save Money. Live Better.”
Last year, the CVBD ditched the asterisk for its own logo.
The controversy of the logo campaign from six years ago still reverberates today, Deutsch said.
“We’ve done this once and it ended badly,” she said. “It’s still a pretty raw subject in our city.”
Councilmember Terry Nall harkened back to those days, saying he described the city’s current logo as the “Walmart asterisk.”
“Do we even need a slogan?” Nall asked. “We need to have a convincing argument to do this.”
Councilmember Doug Thompson said he didn’t believe the money spent in 2010 for a city logo was a good deal and said he doesn’t believe spending more money necessarily translates into a better product.
The process six years ago that included public meetings , he said, was frustrating and resulted in no consensus “and everybody was mad about it.”
“Now is a good time [to rebrand], but we don’t need to throw a lot of money at it and have meeting after meeting,” he said.
Councilmember Jim Riticher wondered if the costs for the new logo could be paid out of the city’s moving budget. Mayor Denis Shortal said he believed a sounding group of five citizens could come up with a logo and slogan.
Councilmembers Pam Tallmadge and Deutsch said they supported the idea of having a public slogan contest, with no guarantee of a winner, and then hiring a graphics designer to create the visual logo to go with it.
“It’s the perception … with our citizens we want to be real careful how we spend $80,000,” Tallmadge said.
The City Council directed Communications Director Bob Mullen to come up with a significantly lower price tag to be considered at the council’s next meeting Nov. 14 when the council is expected to vote on the budget.