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City Council Votes 4-3 to Reject New U City Logo

The brand identity was revealed to the public March 4 and has been in use since then.

Three months after the City of University City's new brand , the City Council voted 4-3 to reject the logo.

Council members Paulette Carr, Arthur Sharpe Jr, Terry Crow and Byron Price voted against continued use of the logo. Stephen Kraft, Michael Glickert and Mayor Shelley Welsch voted to keep the brand.

The vote means the city will stop using the new logo, including replacing new signs baring the logo with the older signs carrying the city's previous brand. Stationary, business cards and other materials will be phased out, as the city was phasing in the new logo when items needed to be reordered.

Carr, who raised the issue, looked into previous efforts to give the city a brand identity and a logo. The last change occurred in 1975-76 and Carr said her research indicated that the council voted to approve a recommended option after ideas went through the Municipal Commission on Arts and Letters, a public viewing and then brought back to the council.

"I'm puzzled that the council wasn't brought into the process," she said of the 2012 rebranding. "We as a council need to make a decision that this is our logo."

Carr said that precendent dictated the council should vote to approve or reject the logo.

"We as a body of seven need to make that decision," she said.

Price said he didn't like the move to put at the bottom of the logo and the new brand "Neighborhood to the World" at the top.

"What is that theme—Neighborhod to the World? What was trying to be expressed by that," he asked. "What I do know is that the previous logo I knew what that was. The city was highlighted."

Price also objected to the change in color scheme, arguing that the move away from black and gold moved the city logo farther away from the logo of the , which also features the city's iconic lions' heads.

"There was a connection there," he said. "Now that brand is severed."

Former Council member Elsie Glickert addressed the council before its vote and said she could see both sides of the issue.

"I agree with both parties. I love the new logo," she said. "We are a neighborhood the the world. Walk around the on a Sunday afternoon. You will hear languages from all over the world."

Despite her liking of the logo, Glickert said she felt the council should have been afforded a vote on it before it was unveiled to the public.

Mayor Welsch while she appreciated the opinion of those that spoke, the rebranding process was undertaken over a six month period and council could have spoken up during that time period and asked for information. 

"No member of council did that," she said. "I think it would be wrong to back step from this now."

The rebranding was part of a $100,000 public relations contract with Avant Marketing Group. An estimated $39,000 of that $100,000 was spent on the rebranding process and $10,000 for new signs and banners.

Kathy Leahy June 16, 2012 at 03:47 PM
The problem with boards and councils is that it's hard to get anything done! Add politics into the mix and it's nearly impossible. I would urge all on the city council to stop arguing over what was done or not done in the past, what rule was followed or not followed, and work together to move forward. What the logo is for our city is hardly important, given the larger issues our city faces. Does it matter that rules, precedents, etc. were not followed to the letter? A logo is a symbol of us. It is a thing that when a person sees it, they recognize that it represents us. The advantage of a NEW logo is that it gets a person to look again, to reconsider, to draw attention to the thing the logo represents, namely U. City. A NEW logo draws attention to U. City. That is a part of public relations. Now the members of city council who have voted down the logo are removing this valuable attention-getting device. Was this important to do? Do they have the best interests of U. City in mind, or are egos involved, or is rule-following more important than drawing renewed attention to our community? Is it better to be seen as a people who never "break a rule" (or some might say," have a new thought?"), or is it better to be seen as a community that can work together despite our differences? Our community is not defined by its logo, but by the behavior of its citizens and representatives. Personally, I would like to see the council get some real work done to help build U. City.
Mary McKenney June 16, 2012 at 04:34 PM
VERY well spoken, Kathy Leahy!!!!
Kim June 18, 2012 at 02:28 PM
The nextSTL blog weighs in on our new/old logo: http://nextstl.com/stl-county/what-s-in-a-city-brand-university-city-retreats-from-new-logo
Cindy June 18, 2012 at 05:17 PM
I do think it is important what rules are followed. We are governed by a city charter and a multitude of ordinances. As a matter of good governance, no one should be allowed to pick and choose which rules they want to follow. Otherwise, why does the charter even exist? Why have a city council? If we were discussing the city budget rather than a logo, would the conversation be different - probably so when discussing large sums of money. But why does disregarding the process for the city's branding considered okay, but would not be considered ethical if it were the budget? We need to fix the broken processes at city hall - why not start now?
Kathy Leahy June 19, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Because they are not starting now. They are starting with something that was completed in the past. If the processes are indeed broken, then I would expect those members of the council who fear the risks inherent, would spend their valuable time making sure that processes are followed with regards to decisions going forward. Undoing that which has already been done is wasteful, petty, and foolish, and in my opinion harms the council and University City itself. Helping the council move forward in a responsible way would be a better use of effort and time, and would prove that the council can work together for the good of U. City. As evidenced by the removal of the new city logo, it seems that some members of the council are intent on proving how right they are, at the expense of the best interests of our community.
Jeff Hales June 19, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Kathy, what you're failing to recognize is that the official logo is still today as it was unanimously passed by the council in January of 1976. What has been undone? The way forward is to create a real dialog among citizens, beyond the 157 hand picked residents, to send the logo to the Commission on Arts and Letters, and ultimately a vote of the council. We always have a right, and arguably a responsibility to right the wrongs of the past as well as ensure they don't happen in the future. There is far greater harm to city and council when our charter and our ordinances are selectively followed.
Jeff Hales June 19, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Kathy, you're absolutely right. The logo is a symbol of all of us which is exactly why the new logo was put on public display in the Library for a month in 1975 and why the City Manager brought it to the Council for vote in 1976. The Mayor and City Manager did not afford the citizens of University City the opportunity to weigh in and have a dialog within the community and our council members. Most importantly, the Mayor and City Manager did afford us the right to be heard through our elected representatives as to whether we want this new logo to represent us as a city.
Cindy June 19, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Those that weren't at the council meeting to hear the discussion regarding the branding process can download a recording at http://ucitycitizen.org/. There were council persons that wanted to discuss the process (Carr and Crowe for example) and "move the council forward in a productive way." However, there were council members that had no interest in such a discussion (Welsch and Kraft). It was Kraft who insisted on the up or down vote on the logo. So, if we are going to talk about those that are "wasteful, petty, and foolish," you may want to listen to the audio of the meeting.
Kathy Leahy June 20, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I would like to listen to an audio of the meeting, but it seems that that meeting's audio is not yet available. Still, I thank you for making meeting information available. I did listen to the latest meeting where the audio is available, and found more evidence in it that Ms Carr and Mr Crow persist in using their valuable time to address their issues about things that either have already been decided upon, or are inconsequential, such as how one is addressed during meetings. How do resolutions of either of these issues move our city forward? How are they not wasteful of the council's time? Jeff, it is clear to me that the mayor and council, working in the best interests of the city and to the best of their ability, hired a firm to design a new logo, because a new logo is an attention getting device for our community. The tagline "Neighborhood to the World" brings out one of the strengths of our diverse community. It is intended to help attract new residents and businesses to our community, which would help our community grow. It is the newness that makes it valuable. It is not necessary or even possible for everyone to agree on the logo. It is necessary to decide on an appropriate logo, and in my opinion, that has been done. Everyone doesn't have to love it, in order for the logo to do what it was created to do. in my opinion, we elected the mayor and council to make decisions to better our community, and I don't need to be asked about every decision they make.
Kim June 20, 2012 at 02:47 PM
'm sorry Kathy, but I don't know how anyone can begin to claim that this is a "new" logo. It is the same exact logo we've had since the 70s, with the exception of new trendy colors and the addition of a confusing new slogan that takes predominance over the name of our city. Even the original font was maintained! You say "the newness makes it valuable" - but it Isn't new at all. The emperor has no clothes!
Jeff Hales June 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Kathy, Here is the scope of work as defined by City Manager in the RFP: "Work to be Performed At a minimum, the following activities should be performed: 1. Develop a communications plan involving umbrella messaging, strategies and tactics; 2. Promote key community activities and initiatives through online and traditional media; 3. Prepare and distribute news releases and other communications surrounding key activities; 4. Advise on City public relations strategies with the public and the media; 5. Advise on monitoring and tracking of stories and online placements as required; 6. Perform work on assigned City publications, including content, graphic design, and monitoring the printing and mailing function; 7. Develop specifications for any work requiring competitive bidding; 8. Improve the City website, as necessary; 9. Other projects as assigned." How is this interpreted as authorization to replace, change, or modify the city's official logo? Furthermore, this argument that a logo is a "attention getter" is silly and way too much stock has been put in the logo. The hiring process of the city manager was an "attention getter", the City Manager's subsequent censure and banishment from the ICMA was an "attention getter", the removal of signs at two poling places on election day was an "attention getter". These things define the city's brand far more than any logo.
Jeff Hales June 20, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Kim, you've touched on what I find to be the biggest problem with the logo: it's elements. Taglines and slogans come and go with organizations all the time. One of the problems with this design is that the tagline bears more importance than the identity itself. The original logo (while arguably dated) is still a brilliant work. From the stylized lions, to the yellow backdrop with curved corners split by the white streak representing the beacon top of city hall, creating a U; an incredible amount of thought and creativity went into creating an ORIGINAL WORK. From a creative standpoint, I think it was absolutely wrong to alter an original work and pass it off as something "new". They removed two elements that were meaningful and iconic to UCity in favor of blue and green (which represent water & parks?). Sadly, the most creative and interesting aspect of the $29K "new logo" is another designer's original work: the stylized lions. I can't help but think that the new logo is an affront to the original designer as most designers and artists don't like their work copied or altered by others. I wonder what he might say about it.
Kathy Leahy June 20, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Correction: It now appears that the audio file I listened to this morning WAS the one from the June 11 meeting after all. This makes me wonder why Cindy directed my attention to the audio, since it contradicts her point...
Jeff Hales June 20, 2012 at 10:55 PM
....and how is that?
Kathy Leahy June 21, 2012 at 01:59 AM
As I mentioned in the above post, quoting myself: I did listen to the latest meeting where the audio is available, and found more evidence in it that Ms Carr and Mr Crow persist in using their valuable time to address their issues about things that either have already been decided upon, or are inconsequential, such as how one is addressed during meetings. How do resolutions of either of these issues move our city forward? How are they not wasteful of the council's time?
Jeff Hales June 21, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Kathy, with all due respect, again, the new logo was never "decided upon" and to suggest it was is just wrong. How do the City Manager and Mayor have the authority to change city policy created by a previous council without the consent of a majority of the body of council? The adoption of an official logo for the city was a matter of policy when last done in 1976 and remains so today. Many in our community like the logo, many do not, but any kind of open, democratic process was subverted by the Mayor and City Manager when they decided this would be the official logo for the city without regard for previous council 1976 and without regard to citizens and the rest of the council. There are many citizens that would like there to be a discussion about this by our representatives. It is not a waste of time; it is better late than never.
George Lenard June 21, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Jeff is not responding to Kathy's broader comment, which is perceptive and well-taken. I happen to be quite fond of the logo and tagline, as well as the City identity/mission bullet-points on the back of the card (to which nobody seems to object). I also happen to believe this conflict could easily have been foreseen and should have been avoided through a more open and inclusive process, including public disclosure of the Avant report on the focus group work and logo development. As to whether, in the abstract, this was a matter of "policy" that was legally required to come before Council it strikes me as borderline (without having done legal research). "Policy" is a broad term," so that almost any decision could be characterized as policy by those wishing to maximize the Council's power and involvement in details of City operations. Knowledge that the original logo had Council approval does suggest that the same should be true of any change. How did this knowledge come about? Did someone with "institutional memory" no longer involved in City government but desirous of "stirring the pot" and further denigrating Mayor Welsch and City Manager Walker disclose this fact to others in a position to use it? Did someone presently in City government with a similar agenda go back through minutes of Council meetings researching whether or not the previous logo had been approved by Council--or did they demand that City employees spend hour upon hour doing so? I wonder....
Jeff Hales June 21, 2012 at 06:43 PM
No George, you've missed my broader comment in response to Kathy's broader comment that Mr. Crow and Ms. Carr wanted to have a dialogue about the logo and the process because its what citizens deserve, and that they, as well as all council members have an obligation to ensure that processes are followed so that the logo of University City is consistent with the official logo as passed by the council. To your other point, I do enjoy your political conspiracy theories; they are Nixon-esque. I think the answer is likely far more benign than you may think. When embarking on a process to rebrand any organization for the first time in 35 years, the most elementary of questions to ask is: "how did they do it before?". It's rather incredible that no one seemed to ask that question, perhaps it would have been asked if the council & public were afforded greater involvement during the process. How the knowledge came about is not a conspiracy or a secret. If you listen to the recording of the meeting, I think you'll hear that Ms. Carr stated that she researched how the old logo came to be the official logo. She spoke with city manager and council members from that time. I think you'll also find that she agrees with your statement that "the same should be true of any change" to the official logo. Perhaps you should see where else you might agree?
George Lenard June 21, 2012 at 07:40 PM
No Jeff you didn't address: "Ms Carr and Mr Crow persist in using their valuable time to address their issues about things that either have already been decided upon, or are inconsequential, such as how one is addressed during meetings. How do resolutions of either of these issues move our city forward? How are they not wasteful of the council's time?" But thanks for answering my questions about the information. You can make fun of it as Nixonian conspiracy thinking, but you confirm involvement of people who are no longer in power but can't seem to keep their hands off, as well as time spent digging up old history (which may or may not be valuable). If Ms. Carr did it all on her own time, fine, but I've heard otherwise.
Steve June 21, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"about things that either have already been decided upon, or are inconsequential, such as how one is addressed during meetings". Things already decided on. Driving range lights. That was decided years ago. Yet, Mr. Walker, with the support of some on the Council, raised that issue yet again. Under Ms. Carr's leadership an ordinance was passed at the last meeting hopefully stopping that issue from coming up again and again. How one is addressed. The Mayor spent considerable Council time on a civility pledge. It is selectively enforced, but that is another story. Where was the complaint then? Those who think such things are a waste of time can still voice that complaint to the Mayor and those who agreed with her on that pledge. Tell the Mayor she wasted your time, if this is a true complaint. But if I understand the argument, it is that some deserve civility and others do not. I get it. So, you heard otherwise-One of the things that give citizens a bad view of the City, is whisper campaigns. If you have proof share it. You know, like the e-mails from Evanston. Not comments whispered in your in your ear at some clandestine meeting. Do you call you contact Deep Throat?
George Lenard June 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Never ending....One has to know a lot of history to put all this in the proper context. Kathy's comment struck me as a very apt personal take on how things appeared to her as someone who has not been regularly and deeply awash in the City's political muck and mire. I don't hear anyone but you saying "some deserve civility and others do not."
Jeff Hales June 21, 2012 at 08:51 PM
Oh George...I'm reminded of a comment you once made towards me on here. It was something along the lines of: "the more you talk the less you say." Addressing and correcting past errors is moving forward and it's made more difficult when you use this platform to malign the intentions of others. It's one thing to criticize the actions of an official, it's quite another to malign their intentions. George, I know you "loathe" Ms. Carr, but if you have a question about her research, perhaps you should give her a call.
George Lenard June 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Let's move forward. Ms. Carr (or anyone else on Council) could start with a motion to send the logo project to Arts or whatever else they thinks might be appropriate in order to prevent it from being a completely wasted effort. While there have been some loudly squeaking wheels both about procedure and about the product itself (logo and tag line), the procedure is reparable (by taking such steps) and such procedure might yield a reasonable determination whether the product is a complete and total reject and failure, one that should be approved as is, or one that should be tweaked. Not moving to take such steps would imply less concern for managing spending appropriately (not wasting money already spent), less concern for getting a good result, and more concern for scoring political points. I'd be happy to be wrong on this. "Loathe" is a bit strong, but so far my pre-election concerns seem to be validated.
Ucitywonders June 21, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Has anyone else noticed that the one thing that is consistent in all these "issues" that keep popping up is our City Manager? I thought City Managers were supposed to stay below the radar, carry out the will of the elected body and not make policy. Seems like our City Manager likes to make policy decisions and those keep getting the headlines.
Steve June 21, 2012 at 09:43 PM
George you said that Kathy's comment about how one is addressed at a meeting , "is perceptive and well-taken". You endorsed the idea that this is a waste of time. You asked, “How do resolutions of either of these issues move our city forward? How are they not wasteful of the council's time? You have been involved in the muck and mire. You know the history. Yet you cannot explain why when Ms. Carr asks for some civility it was a waste of time but when the Mayor did it was not. So was it a waste of time then and now? Or is it just a waste of time because it was Ms. Carr?
Kathy Leahy June 22, 2012 at 12:03 PM
Jeff, #1 and #6 could include a redesign of the logo. Kim, There are changes, therefore it has a new look. The slogan you say is confusing clearly makes one think about what it means. Thinking is a part of attention-getting. If it weren't different, then it would not be new. It is different from the old logo.
Jeff Hales June 22, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Kathy: to construe #1 and #6 in the RFP as rebranding quite a stretch and you echo the Mayor who claims that this PR contract was the authorization to redesign the city logo and rebrand the city. In terms of branding--and this is very elementary--confusion is a sign of failure, not success. If someone has to ask "what does that mean?" when they look at your brand, your brand has failed. Whether it be the confusing tagline, the exclusive process & failure to engage the broader community, the historical ignorance and indifference shown to the previous 1976 council & designer, the unauthorized selection & adoption, the alteration of an original concept and creation, or the $29K price tag, this logo has certainly been an attention-getter that has only served to create a brand of failed leadership.
Kathy Leahy June 23, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Consider this: The "right" way to do anything may or may not be the way it was done before. History teaches us many important things, but historical lessons must be learned in the context of the times. One needs to keep in mind that that was then, and this is now. The circumstances may have changed since the last time something was approved by our political leaders. Just because something was done a particular way in the 1970's does not mean that it must be done exactly the same way in the 2010's, 40 years later. We can, and I would urge the council to, think more creatively about how we can move forward with the goals of our city, and not be mired in the processes that, while they may have served the city in the past, may not be the best way as we move into the future. Rule makers of the past were not necessarily more wise than the council members today, and I urge us all to consider that there can be more than one "right" way to do a thing, and that the "right" ways of the past may not lead us to the "right" way going forward. We don't necessarily have to follow the leadership of previous councils. We can be leaders, and think for ourselves. Whichever side of a given battle you are on, I would urge you to consider thinking about what is the best way today, given what we have learned from the ways of the past, and know of the present, to make decisions, and make changes, for the betterment of the community.
Kathy Leahy June 23, 2012 at 02:51 AM
One more thought about "right": It is only natural that in any given argument, one strives to prove oneself right. But as a council member, one should fight against that natural impulse, and put ego aside. You do not serve your community if you are only right. Being right is neither enough, nor desirable, if proving your rightness does not help our community grow. I see that as your most important task as council members, and yet there seems to be a lot of distraction from this goal in the form of proving oneself right, and others wrong. We would all be better off if the council would focus on the important tasks at hand, and WORK TOGETHER to grow our community.
Jeff Hales June 23, 2012 at 02:45 PM
One needs to also keep in mind that the city's charter is now as it was then. That the city manager then was acting in accordance with the charter when he brought the proposed logo to the council and it was unanimously approved. That process was obviously inclusive and obviously quite successful.

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