When you think of New York City, what comes to mind? The Statue of Liberty? Broadway musicals? Or perhaps that nicely designed “I Love New York” logo with a big red heart in place of the word “love.”
Philadelphia, known as the City of Brotherly Love, now sports a sleek PHL as its city symbol, like the airport code. And there’s the CLE for Cleveland along with the script metal sculptures of the city’s name displayed at Euclid Beach, North Coast Harbor, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and other locations. Don’t forget that the city is: “Never flashy. Never trendy. Always Cleveland.” (Whatever happened to “Cleveland’s a plum?”)
Columbus has “Experience Columbus.” The logo includes the city’s name in a bluish color except for the last two letters, which are yellowish to highlight the “US” and to convey that all of us are feeling the excitement and energy of Ohio’s capital city. At least that’s what marketers and logo makers are telling us.
Branding a city is nothing new. City emblems go back to 12th century Europe, according to historical accounts.
Today, marketing firms say branding a city gives it a distinct personality to boost its image and attract tourists and commerce.
Impact Group, communications consultants hired by the city of Solon, recently made a special presentation to City Council about the benefits of creating a city logo. Two years ago, when former Mayor Susan A. Drucker hired a consultant to create a new city logo, council pretty much shut her down, hamstringing the last months of her term.
Council members questioned the need of a city logo then and now, and rightly so. Impact Group’s Krista Rodriguez said during the recent meeting that city leaders are not “singing the same song” and a logo would bring cohesiveness. Really?
Solon Marketing Director Angee Shaker said having different logos and not knowing the colors of the city is “horrible” when handing out marketing materials. That analysis is a bit extreme.
We don’t oppose a new logo or branding because it would give the city a visual identity, but council and the administration must first agree on a plan for Solon’s future. We don’t mean holding brainstorming sessions about designs but rather clearly stating the city’s goals and agreeing on a cohesive vision of Solon’s future. Selecting pretty colors won’t solve anything.
Taxpayers have more immediate issues than a city’s colors or logo. They are more concerned about plowed streets in the winter, road repairs in the summer, traffic jams when heading to work, coordinated signal lights and timely refuse pickup. People do love the celebrations in the park like Solon Home Days and look forward to the upcoming bicentennial celebration.
Solon has had the good fortune of solid leadership that mapped out an industrial zone for commerce and residential areas for family living. Now, council and the administration must work out the next chapter together. What does the city need to do to keep industry robust and retail alive? What is the future business plan? Is there a cohesive vision for the former Liberty Ford property? Residents should be included in the process before it becomes a formal proposal. What about improving and coordinating biking and walking lanes throughout the city, some of which are simply too narrow and, in some instances, suddenly end and the walker or rider is met with a busy roadway?
Solon does do a lot already working with companies by offering job grants and using other incentives. The community and arts centers are also major pluses and offer so much to residents now.
Before getting into color schemes and catchy sayings, a coordinated effort with council, the administration and residents needs to take place to formulate a true vision for Solon’s future.