Branding taskforce will consider design input

Recognizing that some people believe  “Live it Up!” doesn’t live up to the city’s potential, the Community Branding Task Force will meet after Thanksgiving to consider advice from local designers who have protested that the new logo is amateurish and trite.

“We are open to making this better,” said Doug Price, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau and co-chair of the branding taskforce.

Price and three members of the taskforce met Monday with a half dozen local designers, including Tucker Wannamaker and Marcus Haggard of Magneti Marketing who launched the “Rebrand the Springs” Facebook page that asks the taskforce to re-examine the city’s new branding logo. The logo, they said, looks like it was created by an amateur, and they would like the city to try again.

The Facebook page sparked an online discussion with more than 400 people talking about the slogan, the logo and the new branding campaign.

“I hope the taskforce continues to leverage the energy behind this,” Wannamaker said following the meeting. “I’m glad they are listening.”

Price told the group the taskforce prides itself on the open and transparent process that led to the city’s slogan and logo, which is purple mountains underscored by the slogan, “Live it Up.” The slogan and logo were developed after input from hundreds of people, he said.

The slogan and logo were attacked across the board on social media sites and local news sites that posted comments reacting to the slogan, logo and short video featuring Colorado Springs residents. Most who posted comments didn’t think it was unique to the Springs.

Amy Long, CVB vice president of marketing, said the slogan and logo were really years in the making, starting with a community-wide effort. In March, the former mayor of Colorado Springs created the task force to get the effort moving.

The CVB hired a branding firm Stone Mantel, that had worked on a similar branding effort with three other major cities including Anchorage, Alaska, she said.

The task force, she said, hosted a workshop with 30 representatives from local organizations and they started with common definitions. They looked at photos of Colorado Springs and the interviewed 10 historians “who allowed us to stay connected to our past,” she said.

Stone Mantel visited people in their homes, stopped people on the streets, called former residents and stopped tourists in the airport in an effort to describe why people move to Colorado Springs, what they like about living here, why they visit the Springs and what prompted them to open a business here.

In August, a group of local business leaders met for a two-day charrette to talk about why people live and work in Colorado Springs. After all the research, the taskforce identified the brand character — the image it wants to project — as vibrant, rugged and exceptional. They built the brand strategy on the word “Alive” and that living means doing, Long said.

There were 112 slogans discussed before the Stone Mantel team narrowed it to seven, said Dave Norton, Stone Mantel principle and lead strategist. The logo went through a series of iterations and three were tested, he said.

“(The logo) has to work well on stationary and in an ad campaign,” Norton said.

Live it Up was revealed Nov. 15 by local city and county leaders. To announce the new slogan, the CVB played a video featuring local residents describing Colorado Springs. The video was panned by residents who said it wasn’t representative of the city’s diverse residents, and especially did not represent young professionals. Price said the video was not meant as the marketing video.

But the video is out there, the designers said.

Long said the taskforce is not opposed to trying to make a second first- impression.

“Obviously there has been a strong and interesting reaction, specifically to the creative,” Long said.

Wannamaker, who participated in the charrette, said the logo falls short of representing all the work and research that was done.

“We frankly don’t believe the creative implementation speaks to everything you went through,” he said.

Haggard said the city has an amazing opportunity to try again. The words rugged, vibrant and exceptional are inspiring, he said.

“The creative implementation should be equally inspiring,” he said.

People should want to slap the city logo on their backpack, he said.

The success of the slogan and logo depends on its execution, said Polly Welden, Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce communications and marketing manager and member of the branding taskforce.

“Implementation going forward will make or break the branding effort,” she said. “A brand is organic – its grows, it morphs, it settles, it finds its place.”

Price said the taskforce is open to the feedback.

“We will go back and talk about it,” Price said. “We don’t have the answer for you today. I assure you this has not fallen on deaf ears.”

2 Responses to Branding taskforce will consider design input

  1. I’ll bet any marketing class at the UCCS Business School could come up with a better process and outcome than the so-called professionals. Why not turn Venkat (Dean of the Business School) and his students loose and see what they come up with. It would probably be very good.

    And who knows, the project might inspire some of them to go on and get their Doctorate in Rhetoric, like the guy at Stone Mantel……

    John Whitten
    November 22, 2011 at 1:23 pm

  2. I’m happy to see the CVB is open to some revisions. It sounds like their process was great, identifying some excellent branding words and ideas…vibrant, rugged and exceptional… but then gave the tail end a cursory implimentation. This city is a cool place to live, visit, and work, etc…. but the logo, as is, aint gonna give anybody the impression its meant to give.

    gringo luminoso
    November 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm