By Meghan Gutzwiller
Bid adieu to Monticello’s bridge railing and say hello to swans: the city officially has a new logo.
After shooting down city staff’s request for a branding consultant to create a new image and message for the city earlier this year, the city council asked what staff could do to create a more unified look throughout different city departments, i.e. the community center, FiberNet Monticello, public works and others. Economic Development Director Megan Barnett-Livgard took charge of the project, tying Monticello’s two most well-known assets, the Mississippi River and the trumpeter swans to form the logo, while maintaining some continuity by using the former logo’s cursive ‘M’ for the swan’s wing. Barnett-Livgard said the new logo also ties the city of Monticello with other important businesses in town, sharing river waves with New River Medical Center’s and the local chamber of commerce and industry’s logos and the swan image with the Monticello Times.
Barnett-Livgard brought the logo in front of the council on April 23, where it received a 4-1 approval, with mayor Clint Herbst dissenting.
City staff sought community opinion before finalizing the logo, and Herbst picked up on some of the negative comments citizens shared. While Barnett-Livgard said most comments were positive, some of the criticism included: asking why a new logo was necessary, expressing their dislike for the cursive M in the swan’s wing, and their distaste for the aqua coloring of the logo, which some thought to be outdated.
Based on this feedback, staff thinned out the M and toned down the aqua coloring, changing part of the logo to green for the parks and blue for the river.
Though he said he liked the look of the new logo, Herbst said he thought perhaps the money would be better spent on tree planting or other ways of dressing up the city, saying he thinks word of mouth is just as important of a factor if people drive through and see a nice-looking city. He said he didn’t see a problem with the different branches of the city having their own look.
“I guess I’m not to the point where I think we should be spending any dollars on rebranding ourselves,” Herbst said. “You did what we asked you to do, but I don’t think [changing the logo] is the magic bullet.”
“We have the ability to tell our story,” Barnett-Livgard said in her reasoning for a new logo, “and with site selectors, it’s important for them to know what a community’s brand and image is.”
City administrator Jeff O’Neill said he thought the former logo had served the city fine for years, but pointed out that it is rather busy and difficult to reproduce. It is difficult to use in instances that call for a more horizontal orientation, and he also said it is expensive to print in color because all of the different colors in it, which they didn’t realize was a problem when initially creating the former logo.
Barnett-Livgard said that having the M consistent in both the old and new logo will make the transition especially efficient since it gives the city greater ability to change things over time. When the city needs to order new brochures, apparel or other items they can switch to the new logo printing for a one-time $50 setup fee, but in the meantime the items with the old logo will still maintain some consistency with the new.
Barnett-Livgard estimated it would take $1,000 or less to get all four websites coordinated, which is the first phase of implementation. In a later phase two, she said they would like to work with a marketing agency to identify a compelling tag line to help them craft a “powerful statement” about the city of Monticello that could accompany its newly minted logo.