GREEN BAY - It's a logo that could win you points at trivia. The Green Bay Packers-green gradient frames the cupula of Bay Beach stamped with the Packers logo, behind which is the arc of Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge.
But winning a round of trivia isn't the same as attracting people to a city, a fact that was up for discussion this week among Green Bay elected officials.
The City Council's Finance Committee voted unanimously to update the logo and motto of Green Bay, the first step of many in hitting refresh on outdated branding. The proposed move is estimated to cost the city a range of $90,000 to $110,000, between the consultation services ballparked at $65,000 to $75,000 and another $25,000 to $35,000 to apply the new logo and motto.
"This is not just a refresher of the city logo," Neil Stechschulte, community and economic development director to the city, said. "This is a much more in-depth discussion of what the city's values are and how that gets portrayed and disseminated through our first efforts, not only for our department but citywide."
Development specialists for the city presented the problems of the current look: a cluttered logo up for interpretation, outdated fonts, a cumbersome gradient lost when converted to monochrome and a vague catchphrase — "It's all here!" — that could describe any city.
While Matt Buchanan, the development specialist for the city, presented the reasons for redesign, he compared the city's marketing strategies to a company branding a product like Coca-Cola, which he used as an example.
"We really have several different audiences that we're marketing to. You can use it for tourism purposes. It can be used by the business community, which is helpful for businesses to recruit talent," Buchanan said. "It can be a way for residents to hang our hat on when trying to exhibit civic pride."
Literally. When the NFL designed draft ads in 2019, they looked to city logos to design swag such as hats. The Packers draft hat designed that year, with its bands of seafoam green and cobalt blue, was based off the city logo, which was also stamped on the hat.
Despite that flattering nod from the NFL, "there's some confusion over what is even in the logo," said Laura Schley, public arts coordinator for the Green Bay Public Arts Commission. "Within our department, there was confusion over what the building depicted in the logo is, which isn't a great start."
The Bay Beach cupula could be mistaken for the Brown County Courthouse dome, for example, as the visual shares similar traits. The arc behind it could be railroad tracks or perhaps the Bay Beach roller coaster.
Council member Lynn Gerlach said that when she moved back to Green Bay after a long absence and saw that the city fashioned the same logo as when she left, she was "stunned." Gerlach said someone had to remind her what the structure being depicted was.
The creation of the current logo itself drew some puzzlement from the development team. While the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported on Feb. 14, 2004, about the city flag's unveiling at a gala, the author noted that the logo was only "somewhat designed."
"We believe the 2004 logo was just an update from a logo that looked very similar with more embellishments and possibly a different center icon than the Bay Beach pavilion that shows now," Stephanie Hummel, a planner for the city, said by email.
Previously, Green Bay's flag proudly waved the city's iconic industries. A crowd of evergreen trees as backdrop offered up a comical scale of green on yellow images: a Packers helmet, a gargantuan gallon of milk, a round of cheese, a fishing boat and, notable for its superior size, a towering paper towel roll.
Clearly, the city has decluttered its logo since then.
Still, Buchanan, the development specialist, said the city's outdated brands put Green Bay behind neighboring cities. Municipalities such as De Pere and Kaukauna have done the work of appealing to contemporary aesthetics, using a readable font, bright colors and a good use of white space. It's high time for Green Bay, considered an internationally recognizable city, to follow suit, Buchanan said.
But why rebrand now? The development team argued that the timing lines up with funding. As the work-from-home model becomes increasingly popular, Schley said employers may become more lax about where their employees reside. That future can be a boon for the city, with the right incentives.
"We can potentially be having residents that work their day job in Texas but hang out over at Grounded Café in the afternoon," Schley said. "Which makes it just that much more important for us to remain competitive with these communities because people are no longer going to be tied to a city just because they work there."
There's also $100,000 worth of funding for the project, thanks to unbudgeted revenue from a cooperative agreement with the Oneida Nation. Diana Ellenbecker, the city finance director, confirmed that that money has already been invoiced and received for the general fund.
Council member Veronica Corpus-Dax was one of many to applaud the move.
"Graphic designers and art directors and creative directors are in this business for a reason. They understand color theory, they understand what works, what doesn't," Corpus-Dax said. "They understand why that color works, what kind of emotion that involves. I think that that part is incredibly important."
Up next, the proposal will be presented to the full City Council in January. From April to September, the selected consultant will begin community engagement by way of online surveys, focus groups, roundtable discussions and tours of the community.
The new brand is expected to launch and be implemented in January 2023.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: City of Green Bay to launch rebrand project in 2023