The Town of West Hartford is beginning the process of developing an up-to-date logo that can be used consistently across departments and on signage.
By Ronni Newton
The Town of West Hartford’s official logo has been in use since 1988, and while many departments and events have created their own completely different logos in the intervening years, plans are in the works for development of an updated, modern image that can be used for all purposes.
“I was surprised to find out how many different logos there are, and how many different departments have created their own logos,” said Town Council member Dallas Dodge, who chairs the Council’s Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Economic Development. On Monday night, the Subcommittee reviewed the process that is being put in place for developing a new logo.
“There wasn’t one image or brand for the town,” Dodge said. In addition, many of the logos that are in use are an outdated style and he said it’s time for a more modern image.
The town’s official logo depicts the Noah Webster statue, as well as the Town Hall building and what was formerly the education center but was renovated to become part of Blue Back Square and is currently home to Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. Houses and a church spire also appear in the image.
According to information provided by Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue, after Blue Back Square opened in 2009 a portion of the logo was chopped off, so that only the Noah Webster statue and current Town Hall were included. In 2015, according to McCue, then-Town Manager Ron Van Winkle decided to revert to the original, full-sized logo, to indicate that “we are a community of homes and businesses.”
The rectangular shape of the existing logo, however, isn’t easily adaptable and is difficult to translate into seals or stamps, or avatars on website.
“We want to be consistent in presenting our image,” Town Manager Matt Hart said Tuesday.
In December 2017, Hart asked McCue to research design firms and determine the cost of developing a new logo. Because the cost is less than $5,000, a formal bid process was not necessary, and McCue received bids from three firms. West Hartford-based Ryan Marketing was chosen because they “had the most resources for the lowest price,” according to McCue.
The Town Council was advised of plans to move forward with the logo development in June, and the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Economic Development will be involved with the selection process.
The community will also have the opportunity to be involved in the process. “We want to get feedback from a broad range of people,” Hart said.
In September, shortly after Labor Day, a web-based survey will be distributed through the town’s website and social media channels, as well as through media outlets, requesting the submission of “inspirational words” that best describe the town.
The submitted words will be turned into images and used by Ryan Marketing to “help inform the designs we produce,” said Hart.
“The more up-front community involvement the better,” Dodge said.
The Subcommittee other Council members, and a committee of town staff, will review several final designs in late September, and in early October the finalists will also be presented to the entire community for feedback.
While the designs won’t necessarily be put to a formal vote, Hart said, “We will ask people to articulate their preferences. It’s very important for us to select something we can feel good about.”
The new logo should reflect West Hartford’s “reputation, character, and quality of life,” said Hart. It also should be able to stand the test of time.
“It has to be able to serve multiple purposes,” Hart said. “It can’t be just ‘fun,'” he said, because it will be used for a variety of purposes including parking tickets and tax bills as well as signage.
Although the solicitation of designs from high school graphics students was suggested at Monday night’s Subcommittee meeting, Dodge said the consensus among Council members was also that it should be designed by a professional. “It needs to be versatile enough for departments that are engaged in serious business,” said Dodge.
“I even told the town manager that he’d have to get a tattoo of it,” Dodge said.
Plans are for the winning design to be announced in October, and a branding campaign will be launched at that time. The intent is to incorporate the new logo into the town’s website, as well as a new resident promotional brochure, printed and other official documents, lapel pins, shirts, badges, car decals, and maps, according to McCue.
In addition to the logo development, other matters discussed by the Subcommittee on Monday night included incorporating an economic development strategy into the Plan of Conservation and Development, which is currently being updated.
Economic Development Specialist Kristen Gorski presented a report on new businesses, and said that demand for space is outpacing supply, Dodge said. “We’re clearly doing something right,” he said.
Although the Subcommittee was initially created for the purpose of discussing the UConn property, there’s likely a need for it to continue to meet on other topics.
One topic that may be considered is the creation of a town redevelopment agency, as well as creating a pedestrian-only area in town at least on a temporary basis.
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