LogoGate a debacle on too many levels

    The profusion of goofs, errors, and poor judgment surrounding the city’s new logo is a topic on the lips of many a Bellingham resident these days.
   The outgoing mayor’s rather flip "it’s no big deal" manner on this topic has not done anything to quell the irascible horde; in fact, it has only thrown further gas on the open flame of irate public opinion.
   In a quote on the city’s Web site, the former mayor said, “It is an interesting commentary on how great life is in Bellingham, when the city’s letterhead is the subject of extensive discussion."
   Unfortunately, he seems to have missed the entire point, or set of points, detailed below:
   Why did the City of Bellingham need a new logo, anyway?
   Good question. The old logo, while a bit dated, wasn’t ever screaming for a revision. But in that same memo to city employees, the then mayor said that "we" have made the decision to upgrade it. Thus, the path to a new, expensive, mediocre-looking logo was laid.
   How much did the new logo cost?
   All told, about $30,000. No, that’s not a joke. How often come budget time do we hear about projects or staff that go unfunded because of budget woes?
   Yes, we know all about how you can’t necessarily take monies from coffer 1 and use them to pay things in coffer 2 — but don’t ask us to stomach bad news on programs and staff, but happily pony up $30,000 for a new logo that very few residents would have thought was in such dire need of replacing.
   This is the worst use of city funds since the skate park that was supposedly going to be paid for by raffles and bake sales by the local skaters; hundreds of thousands of city dollars later, we had a skate park that the skaters constantly complained wasn’t good enough.
   Who picked this logo from the other entries?
   Answer: Mark Asmundson, a man who has done uncountable good for the city during his long years in public office, but whose artistic and marketing/branding credentials must now be called into serious question.
   What about being the mayor makes one instantly a marketing or branding expert? Answer, part two: nothing. Why is the city now on the hook for $30,000 worth of logo based solely on the personal taste of one individual with no professional expertise in the area?
   Can we fix this?
   Absolutely. Take the finalists, put them on display in the entrance to City Hall, and let residents vote for their choice by writing down their name and address and checking a box on a paper ballot. Easy.
   Better yet, let WWU graphics students also contribute an entry. We’re willing to bet that a contest among statewide universities would have elicited plenty of gorgeous logo designs, at the cost of nary a penny.
   If the city then felt a necessity to throw money at the project, perhaps paying a consultant to evaluate the entries — and help overcome the decision-maker’s lack of expertise in the area — would have been a more prudent use of city funding.

Off Beat
   by Rik Dalvit


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