Several western Wake County towns have been in various stages of rebranding themselves within the last year, looking at new town flags, logos and slogans.
But the Cary Town Council voted not to make changes to the town’s brand on March 23, when council members Lori Bush and Jennifer Robinson brought forth a request to “refresh” the town seal.
Bush said she wasn’t looking to change the seal, just update it. The seal was last changed in the 1970s and was enhanced for use on the town flag in 2001.
“Our seal is our brand. It’s our identity, and I don’t want to change what it means,” Bush said. “What I’d like is something that’s appealing. A little bit better than the hand-drawn look that we have today. Something a little bit more colorful that shows our new identity – an identity that has changed significantly since the ’70s.”
Some surrounding towns, including Holly Springs, Morrisville and Fuquay-Varina, have been in the midst of their own rebranding efforts, including selecting new logos, mottos and mission statements.
Fuquay-Varina rolled out its new logo, redesigned website and motto in December. Holly Springs unveiled a new town flag with a stylized holly leaf logo in August. Apex is taking a look at a possible new logo. Morrisville is still deciding on its new logo and town seal.
Cary spokeswoman Susan Moran said the council discussed branding and marketing efforts at its 2013 council retreat but decided not to pursue it.
The council brought up the issue again March 23 when the motion to instruct town staff to look into the options and costs of updating the town seal failed with a 5-2 vote. Bush and Robinson voted in favor of staff looking into options for a possible update.
“I really see no need to change it,” Mayor Pro Tem Ed Yerha said. “I’m concerned about staff time. Some of these things that seem very simple to us, and this does seem like a simple request, takes a lot more staff time than we think it might take.”
Other council members who were not in favor of changing the seal said they may be open to enhancing the seal for online purposes.
“I see nothing wrong with the seal,” councilman Don Frantz said. “The only thing I would consider is an enhanced digital version for electronic media and such so maybe it shows up a little better. Other than that I don’t want to touch it.”
History of the seal
The black and white town seal is used to give authenticity to town documents, including contracts, council resolutions and ceremonial documents.
It features a dogwood flower, the state’s official flower, with the year the town was incorporated – 1871 – at its center, surrounded by four petals, each holding a different element.
These four elements – a house, a church, a torch and a school – each indicated a municipal commitment – serving citizens, religious freedom, enlightenment and education respectively, according to Town Council minutes from June 14, 2001.
The words “Cary, North Carolina” are written at the top with curlicues encircling the rest of the image.
These elements have been a part of the town’s seal since 1964 when Marion Daugherty designed the original for a contest sponsored by the Cary Chamber of Commerce, according to a June 3, 2004, article in The Cary News.
But the original looked a bit different. Daugherty used gourds instead of curlicues and included the words “Gourd Capital of the World” at the bottom.
In a piece of near-forgotten town history from the 1930s, a group of Cary women began growing gourds with help from the International Gourd Society. Because of their success and growing prominence in the gourd world, the ladies formed a club called the “Gourd Gardeners” and began crafting lamps, baskets and more out of gourds, according to Tom Byrd, who authored “Around and About Cary.”
That was the start of the Cary Gourd Festival, the town’s longest running annual celebration, Byrd said. The festival later moved to Raleigh.
While the 1964 seal celebrated Cary’s position in the gourd world, Byrd said the seal was “quietly degourded” in the 1970s when it took on its current appearance.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon