Last week I provided background information for Paul Hiebert, a journalist preparing an article for The New Yorker. Our conversation reminded me of the unrealistic expectations that community leaders and citizens sometimes place on logos. And yes, taglines as well.
Along with taglines, logo development tends to absorb a disproportionate amount of attention and energy from leaders and some local constituents when looking to change images of their city. I am not saying that a logo is not important, but you must be careful not to end up with the proverbial “camel designed by a committee”. Many city brands would be much stronger if more attention had been paid to other aspects of the strategy, such as more accurately defining its competitive strengths and positioning or on consistently delivering outstanding and innovative experiences.
A logo should act as a trigger or cue to aid recall of the positive associations and memories that people may hold about the place. Strong brands are built on trust that comes from positive, valued experiences. A logo and a fresh coat of point do little to mask the problems that may be damaging or tarnishing the city’s image. In the New Yorker article it was good to see that the spokesperson for the City of Toronto was adamant about not updating the city’s logo. I guess they’ll at least wait until after October’s municipal election!