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Private rebranding proposals for the City of Hillsdale’s logo and official tagline have left some residents and members of city council perplexed.

One of the proposed designs for the City of Hillsdale logo. City of Hillsdale

The redesign proposals — which would cover the city’s website and marketing efforts — have been discussed for the past several months and are a result of the city’s efforts to attract more businesses to the area. Provided by CGI Communications, the new branding would feature a generic Neoclassical facade of a state building with one of these three taglines written under it: “Traditional Values, New Vision,” or “Where Tradition, Education and Innovation Thrive” or “Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future.”

These new options would not replace the city’s current seal, which features a tree and Hillsdale’s charter date, but they would become official branding in areas where the tree would have been used before.

Some residents complain that the new proposals detract from the city’s distinct character.

“The original seal represents the Hillsdale community,” Ward 1 City Council candidate Dennis Wainscott said. “The tree represents more of what Hillsdale stands for than a building with pillars.”

Ward 4 City Council candidate Penny Swan cited a Facebook poll she created that overwhelmingly supported retaining the seal without any new branding.

“It really doesn’t speak to Hilldale,” she said.

Members of the council also took issue with either the logo or tagline.

While he said he liked the tagline, “Where Tradition, Education and Innovation Thrive,” Councilman Matt Bell said the city ought to add an Oxford comma to make it look more professional. He also suggested re-thinking the new logo, stating that the proposed state house looked too bland for official city use.

Councilman Bill Zeiser said he agreed with Bell on the Oxford comma issue and added that he would not want to see the seal removed from city use, since it has been incorporated into so many things — police cars, welcomes signs, council chambers — that mark the city as distinctly Hillsdale.

Zeiser proposed that the city draft a proclamation that the seal cannot be replaced without legislation.

“We should show that it is part of our history,” he said.

Councilmen Will Morrisey and Adam Stockford said they prefered “Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future” to “Where Tradition, Education and Innovation Thrive” because the former seemed less manufactured to them.

“I think it’s kind of clunky,” Morrisey said.

Stockford added that although he preferred “Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future,” the tagline is already in use in other towns, so the city might appear unoriginal by adopting it.

Councilman Patrick Flannery said he disagreed with the whole idea of corporate branding.

“Why do we need a tagline?” he said. “We know who we are. People will know when they come live in the city, and we can point to that.”

The council unanimously voted to table the discussion to a later date because of the dissatisfaction with the current options.

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Nic Rowan
Nic Rowan is a junior from Washington, DC. He serves as Assistant City News Editor. In addition to the Collegian, his work has appeared in The Washington Free Beacon, National Review Online, The Federalist, Acculturated, and Arc Digital. Daft Punk is playing at his house. email: nrowan@hillsdale.edu | twitter: @NicXTempore
  • Joseph Hendee

    They got the traditional values right. More like Stone Age and no vision.

  • Ellsworth_Toohey

    Flannery….. nothing like an accountant waxing on marketing. Yeah, who needs corporate branding….. shoot me now.

  • disqus_odKVC5cL1k

    Using the same old branding has worked so well bringing new companies in to the city, so keep going down the same path and hope for different outcomes. The definition of insanity.

    • Ellsworth_Toohey

      If you think “Branding” is the reason new companies haven’t come into the town, that is the insanity.

  • Sandy Daze

    Whelp, the last time The Collegian wrote about this:
    “Hillsdale, Michigan: Closer than you imagine!”
    (http://hillsdalecollegian.com/2017/02/hillsdale-michigan-closer-imagine/)

    The company behind the design was one “Arnett Muldrow” not CGI Communications The name of the company may have changed, but the proposed design remains the same…

    Sometimes, when the baby’s ugly, honesty demands speaking the truth; this proposed seal/logo/whatever-you-want-to-call-it, is not just ugly, but UGLY,/>.

    Back in February I commented:
    “…The color choices are not good either. Split-pea soup green
    contrasted with a lighter yellow-green that is reminiscent of some sort
    of Gerber™ baby food. Yuck.

    ~~

    Hey, City of Hillsdale. Why not sponsor a competition of alternatives? Why not let Hillsdale College marketing students take the project on? Offer an incentive
    reward if one of several alternative designs is chosen.

    Offer the same challenge to Jackson College, and perhaps Spring Arbor too .

    Certainly the youth, energy, and excitement to actually craft a potentially
    real-world branding; one for the City of Hillsdale, will inspire
    marketing students to do their very best.

    They certainly won’t do any worse than Arnett Muldrow !

    SAD !

    But, bureaucrats gotta do what bureaucrats do. In this case it is ditch the old saying “It’s The People!” for something new. Last February the next Great Idea™ was

    “Closer than you imagine”

    Now under consideration: “Traditional Values, New Vision,” or “Where Tradition, Education and Innovation Thrive” or “Preserving the Past, Embracing the Future.”

    Wow.

    And, and you mean to tell me that someone actually pays for this *stuff* ???

    Unbelievable.

    • Penny Swan

      The old saying “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it” applies here I think. Leave things alone.

      And if they are going to change things up, your idea about getting the college students and or the community involved is a great idea. I actually tried to do just that, and brought it up to the city council.