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The single sailboat will not be denied: Minneapolis to go back to updated logo

On Wednesday, the full council reversed an earlier reversal and now appears ready, again, to go with a “refreshed” logo. For now. 

Minneapolis’ old, two-sailboat logo, right, will be replaced by a new, single-boat version, left.

Remember that new logo that two committees of the Minneapolis City Council approved early last month? The one that updated the current and familiar image of two sailboats? The one that city staff said would allow the City of Lakes to “project a cohesive, professional city brand?”

And remember how the full council then rejected the new logo late last month in favor of keeping the old two-boat logo?

Well, it’s back.

For now.

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On Wednesday, the council’s Committee of the Whole (which includes all members of the council) reversed its earlier reversal and now appears ready, again, to go with a “refreshed” logo, part of the Visual Identity and Graphics Standards policy, complete with that single sailboat. If members ratify the vote at Friday’s regular council meeting, staff will begin floating out the new logo right away.

They might want to wait for the formal vote. While some council members had differed with the design and quibbled over whether sailboats remain symbolic of the city — or if they ever were — the new design seemed to be, you know, sailing along. On March 20,  what was expected to be a quick approval turned into a longish discussion and the easy passage of a motion by Council Member Andrew Johnson to reject the new single-sailboat design in favor of the current two-sailboat logo.

Johnson’s concern was that the new logo, in a cost-saving measure, would be phased in over time. Only when city materials, signage, equipment and vehicles were replaced would the new logo replace the old logo, and Johnson feared it would be unprofessional and inconsistent to have multiple logos — opposite the intention of the update, which was to unify the city’s graphic image.

Between then and Wednesday, however, other council members moved to rescue the new logo. Much staff time had already been devoted to the new design. And, while familiar, the current two-boat design does not reproduce well in digital formats and does not show up well when it is used small.

So staff told council members that they would go back to work with the 70’s-era logo if the council really wanted them to. “It’s not often that a visual and graphics policy gets this much excitement and discussion,” said City Coordinator Spencer Cronk.

Johnson said he wasn’t happy that what he considered a clear staff direction — to make updates to typography standards while maintaining the two-sailboat mark — hadn’t been done. And he rejected staff assertions that it will take additional weeks to redo the redo — by showing new envelopes and letterhead he had created himself with Photoshop.

Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, who as council vice president chairs the committee of the whole, made a motion to go back to the original staff proposal. “I can really appreciate Council Member Andrew Johnson, who clearly really cares about this issue and has put in a lot of time on it, and it is very frustrating,” Glidden said. But she also said she was sympathetic to staff members who have to accommodate the ideas of 13 different council members. And Glidden said it would be a challenge to update the logo with fresh typefaces and colors but still have to include what she described as “this really weird, pointy sailboat that is hard to reproduce and has these thin lines.”

Council Member Jacob Frey said while he has his own ideas about what a city logo should look like, he wasn’t willing to commit any more staff time or council debate on it. The sailboat  — or sailboats — may not be representative of the city, but everyone would have their own notion of what would be better. He said he had joked with Council Member Lisa Bender that “she would want the logo to be spokes on a bike, and I’d want it to be a little runner.”

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In the end, the council voted to have city staff to go ahead with what it had wanted to do initially. With a formal vote Friday, the city will jettison its double sailboat logo and adopt a new one — with new fonts, consistent colors and a single sailboat. Again.