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.

  • 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!”

    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.”


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


    • 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.