March 6, 2018

Branding Baby Steps

Though branding is about much more than just a logo, naturally that’s what pretty much everyone is focused on.  Some people like the proposed logo.  More people, it appears, don’t.  Most people haven’t commented on it at all.  But based on the public input we have received, it’s obvious the proposal wouldn’t be adopted in its current form and two weeks ago the City Council unanimously agreed not to pursue it any further.  Which is fine; as we've said all along, a new logo could be adopted at the same time as a typography but doesn't necessarily have to be.

Having set the logo aside, last night Council approved the proposed typography, including for signage in the new buildings.  We also formally adopted the verbal identity produced by the branding exercise, which has been very well received.  These are important steps, but baby steps, toward the development of a Bellaire “look and feel” to inform ongoing and future design decisions for a wide range of projects.  In fact, the branding exercise is already influencing potential streetscape improvements downtown, and capital projects that have been on hold for some time are now closer to moving forward.

We appreciate those residents who submitted thoughtful and constructive input on the proposed graphics.  What emerged from their comments is that the “B with a leaf” design is just too abstract for most.  It proved too big a leap from the very literal imagery of our existing logo.  Many expressed their preference for a more gradual evolution, and offered their conceptual ideas of what that might look like.  All very helpful.

What’s also interesting about the public discussion on the proposal is that it highlights Bellaire’s changing demographic.  There’s a discernible trend in the public feedback that tends to validate one of the key findings of the exercise, and indeed one of the reasons we undertook it in the first place.  An updated, more inclusive brand might help us better connect with those who currently don’t feel so connected to their city.

That said, it also highlights the difficulty in trying to create something that’s all things to all people.  As with anything that’s inherently subjective, it’s simply a matter of opinion.  Particularly for something so abstract, not everyone “gets it.”  Again, that’s fine.  We tried something, we asked for your input, and we listened.

It’s good that we’re having the discussion, and that we’re not afraid to have the discussion.  And we’ve shown we can make such decisions, as a community, without overreacting or succumbing to misinformation, rabble-rousing and unwarranted personal attacks.  Honest debate on the merits and respect for all viewpoints will best serve our shared goals in moving Bellaire forward.