A public contest to design a new logo for Woolwich Township seems a rather innocuous undertaking. Woolwich councillors appeared to be of the same mind Tuesday night as they spent little time discussing the issue before approving the plan.
There was, however, a long list of points that went unaddressed.
On the purely practical side, there was no discussion of what the actual cost would be. Not the $3,000 in prize money and operating costs, but the much, much larger expense of replacing every use of the township crest – it’s not a logo, apparently – with whatever new design is chosen. That includes things like letterhead and business cards, signs and vehicle decals, publications and online documents, and a host of other instances where the crest now appears.
Even an incremental change, swapping logos as new supplies are ordered, for instance, presents some challenges.
Changes is the point, after all, of creating a new logo as a branding tool.
Speaking of branding, that word was bandied about, but again there was no discussion. Branding of what? To whom? For what purpose?
Branding companies specializing in such things would carry out studies, focus groups, “visioning” exercises and the like to determine what image the municipality wants to project, then develop a logo, tagline and associated marketing materials. We’re certainly not advocating that approach – enough with the consultants, already – but some of the information generated by that process would be helpful to those in the public interested in taking part in the contest. (Even if the summer timelines don’t work, given that many of us are traditionally otherwise occupied, especially students who might be most inclined to get involved … if they were still in school.)
In the absence of a formal branding exercise – again, don’t go there – the process should have involved some effort on the part of councillors and staff to address the obvious need for some parameters for would-be contestants to draw on. That discussion was telling in its absence.
Even were some considerable thought given to branding, just where would the township be going with its message? In search of tourists? New business ventures? New residents? Such efforts would require considerable amounts of money for advertising and marketing schemes, money the township simply can’t justify, let alone afford.
Drawing back a bit, is this effort a good use of time and money? Again, that’s a question that needs to be asked, and the answer could prove interesting.
Logistics aside, in and of itself, the contest could be seen as a bit of fun, an exercise to see what people envision when they think of Woolwich in the context of a simple image. If enough people take part – again, the timing thing – then the township might get some ideas it can work with, while gaining some useful public input.
At this point, we won’t rush to judgment, but council should be moving quickly to address the unknowns before wasting any amount of the public’s money.