The search for Morrisville’s new logo and town seal will take a little longer than expected after officials were less than enthusiastic about a proposed logo shown Tuesday night.
The town hired Raleigh marketing firm Mottis to come up with a rebranding of the town’s logo, motto, mission statement and more. The logo will be used on everything from shirts and town vehicles to the website, letterhead and signs.
Stephanie Smith, the town’s public information officer who has been coordinating the efforts, presented three options for new logos to the Town Council at Tuesday’s meeting. She said the choices have been kept under wraps.
But she said those who had seen them overwhelmingly prefer an option with the word “Morrisville” down the lefthand side, with a rectangular swath of flowing colors – blue, orange, black, pale green and red – on the right. The suggest motto, “Live connected,” underlines it.
The flowing colors in the logo subtly form a stylized M, which the design team said represents a focus on creativity in Morrisville.
The town has budgeted $75,000 this year for rebranding, in addition to about $50,000 last year. The rebranding launched in October 2014.
The town’s current logo is a tree branch with a pinecone, and the current motto is “The heart of the Triangle.”
Most officials seemed to like the motto change, but the proposed logo was not received as well.
The firm has been directed to return at a later date with a revised logo.
Elected officials saw other messages in the stylized M with the flowing colors.
Council member TJ Cawley said the pastel colors seem too weak, and Mayor Mark Stohlman said the whole design seems “off.”
Stohlman said he is speaking from experience, having worked as a graphic designer before becoming an accountant.
“I’m not crazy about the colors, I’m not crazy about the M, I think the font’s kind of boring,” he said.
He suggested that Mottis reach out to more than the group of town staffers and Morrisville Chamber of Commerce members who have provided input – possibly including focus groups drawn from the community at large.
Both Smith and Martha Paige, the town manager, said they initially had avoided focus groups because they want to have a special unveiling of the design where people will see it for the first time.
“Sharing it with the community eliminates any opportunity to roll out and celebrate a logo, and it’s very contrary to what other cities and towns do,” Paige said.
That’s not always the case. Holly Springs is in the middle of a rebranding process, and the town recently let residents vote on three different versions of a new flag. Reactions were tepid enough to all three that Holly Springs leaders eventually chose a fourth design that was submitted by a resident, who tweaked the most popular of the three proposed designs.
Liz Johnson, the Morrisville mayor pro tem, agreed with Stohlman and others in saying the logo needs more community input to make sure it’s something residents like now and will continue to like in 20 or 30 years.
“It’s more of a young, vibrant, moving kind of logo, and that’s good,” Johnson said. “But it needs to stand the test of time, too.”
Tension between history, present
Stohlman added that he doesn’t like that the new seal and mission statement don’t reference the town’s long history. He said he agrees with other people’s assessment that the logo seems too “trendy.”
“We’re representing a town that’s been around 150 years, not the latest product that’s being sold online,” he said.
Unlike the logo fight, though, Stohlman didn’t quite galvanize support around this stance.
Council member Steve Rao said he would like the branding efforts to focus more on the global nature of the Morrisville community where about a quarter of the population is Asian.
The rebranding also “has to really reflect we want to be a place where younger families come. A more vibrant community,” Rao said. “There has to be a break from the past.”
Unlike the logo, Smith said the proposed mission statement is based heavily on public feedback, including 700 responses to an online survey.
“In reality, our history was not something the public talked about,” she said. “It’s not something that resonated with them. The vast majority of feedback we got from people, they weren’t think about the history. They were thinking about the modern.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly said the rebranding budget was $75,000. The town budgeted $75,000 this year, in addition to about $50,000 last year.
Doran: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @will_doran