Sechelt councillors seem enthusiastic about a new logo and “community brand,” but they also voted Sept. 18 to hold off on deciding whether to adopt the new look and the community-driven branding effort goes with it.
Communications manager Julie Rogers presented the logo and brand strategy to council along with Bill Downie of the local firm Pear Advertising and Design, which created the logo with input from a “brand task force team” that included citizens, business owners and representatives from the Sechelt Downtown Business Association, the Chamber of Commerce and Sunshine Coast Tourism.
The logo is an “S” in three sections symbolizing sun, land and water. It’s designed to be used with the word “Sechelt” and the tagline “The heart of the Sunshine Coast” with “art” emphasized. The emphasis is supposed to evoke the area’s reputation as a hub for the arts as well as “the art of living well.”
“We want to distinguish Sechelt from all the other communities,” Rogers told council. “We want to make Sechelt the destination of choice for visitors, and also showcase Sechelt as a desirable place to live, work, invest, visit and raise a family. It’s about who we are and it’s a little bit about who we are not.”
Rogers said the “S” logo and “The heart of the Sunshine Coast” tagline were created with the goal of being adopted by the wider community, including businesses, as long as they’re willing to follow the licensing and usage rules.
“We can also use our brand to accelerate economic development,” Rogers said. “If we create a more consistent and coordinated approach with all organizations working toward economic development initiatives so that the brand is reflected and represented through our citizens, our external organizations, our business, our events … we’re reflecting our brand and we’re making a name for Sechelt.”
She also said having an identifiable brand is good for community pride and overall well-being.
“Your brand is what people think and it’s what they feel when you say ‘Sechelt’… A successful community brand is built on a promise that you deliver once people arrive,” said Rogers.
According to information released on the district’s website, local businesses and non-profits will be encouraged to use the logo “and follow the brand album in their communications materials as well as event planning and even construction.” Commercial, for-profit use would be allowed under a licensing agreement with the district.
Councillors had not seen the logo or the branding messages until Rogers and Downie made their presentation, and the response was generally favourable.
Mayor Darnelda Siegers said there “was a lot of passion in the room” at a task force meeting she sat in on. “I want to thank the people who took part – they did it for the love of the community.”
“I loved it, it was great… I’m excited,” added Coun. Eric Scott.
Coun. Alton Toth was equally enthusiastic. “As a brand it looks fantastic,” he said. “Part way through the presentation I was already thinking what can I do with this with my business.”
“It hits you,” said Coun. Matt McLean. “The heart of the Sunshine Coast – it feels right… I’m looking forward to seeing where this could head.”
While Rogers emphasized at several points that this wasn’t a new corporate logo for the district but “a complete community brand,” she presented a report later in the meeting that asked council to adopt “a version of the logo,” and said having the district adopt the logo would be critical to advancing the brand
For the district’s own purposes, Rogers proposed using the “S” in combination with “District of Sechelt,” “Sechelt municipality” or variations on that wording.
Rogers said she has a two-year plan to transition to use of the new logo on items like signs and municipal vehicles. There is money, she said, in the current department budget for this year and she anticipates the work slated for 2020 can also be done within the existing budget.
The cost of rebranding is estimated at $3,200 for 2019, including changing the graphics on district vehicles, and $4,400 in 2020 when most of the signage changes would happen.
The work of Downie and his firm cost about $3,000.
McLean said having only just seen the logo and branding strategy he wanted to wait before making a decision and moved to have council defer a vote. The motion passed with support from councillors Scott, Janice Kuester and Brenda Rowe.
At one point in her presentation Rogers acknowledged that there has been “a little bit of logo drama” in Sechelt over the years and said she is “hoping to just move past all of that.”
The drama Rogers was referring to started in 2011, when the district spent around $20,000 to create a new logo and brand which was then rejected by council in favour of holding a contest, which produced a new logo that’s been in use now since 2013.