Frederick's new logo

The new logo for the city of Frederick.

The majority of Frederick’s Board of Aldermen support holding a second, more public process to chose a new city logo.

The board members’ opinions come just days after an intense backlash over the design announced earlier in the week.

Mayor Michael O’Connor opened Thursday evening’s regular mayor and Board of Aldermen meeting by addressing what he called the “elephant in the room” that was the logo — a stylized lowercase “f” with different colors corresponding to different aspects of the city’s character — and the public’s vocal distaste for both the design and the perceived lack of transparency in choosing the design company and the logo itself. Since the main logo was unveiled in an official city Facebook post July 2, a vocal contingent of upset residents have derided everything from the logo to the $45,000 cost of the design as well as the fact that the city chose a non-local company, Jacksonville, Florida-based North Star, to spearhead the process.

“I will be the first to admit, which is something that you don’t often hear out of political leadership, that mistakes have been made,” O’Connor said. “... If I could change the way that this branding project was rolled out to the community, I certainly would have because there’s been some confusion and there’s certainly been a lot of concerns expressed. And if I could change all that, I absolutely would.”

Despite his acknowledgments, O’Connor stopped short of disavowing the unpopular logo entirely, saying he appreciated the hard work put into the process by city staff and the designer, prompting several members of the Board of Aldermen to question where O’Connor stood on the current logo versus reopening the process to consider another design.

“I presume, based on your comments, we’re staying with that [design],” Alderman Derek Shackelford said during the board’s comment period. “Because one of the solutions that I would offer is to go back to the company in which we do and go through the process again so our citizens are more engaged.”

Alderwoman Donna Kuzemchak and Alderman Roger Wilson agreed, with Kuzemchak suggesting to the mayor that “the best way to own a mistake is to fix it,” referring to O’Connor’s acknowledgment that mistakes were made and that he was prepared to own them.

Reached for comment Friday, O’Connor said he wasn’t prepared to address whether or not he would support a new process to select a different logo, saying he planned to discuss the topic next week with city staff and those involved in the original branding process.

“I’m planning on sitting down with my internal creative team in a meeting next week, and we’ll see where we sit after that,” O’Connor said.

Addressing the issue on Friday, Wilson expanded on suggestions he made in Thursday’s hearing by advocating for a more public forum, potentially in the form of a contest, to settle on a less divisive logo for the city. Wilson also emphasized the importance of including input from local artists and design companies.

“The city of Frederick is home to many graphic design companies that I’m sure would be more than happy to be part of that process,” Wilson wrote in an email statement to The Frederick News-Post.

A total of 20 companies from around the country submitted proposals to the city during the request for qualifications process, including at least four companies with offices in Frederick, according to information provided by Keisha Brown, the city’s purchasing manager, in an email response to The News-Post’s questions Friday. Each applicant was graded by a selection committee based on several different criteria, including the overall experience of the members of each company’s proposed design team, the project concept and each company’s pricing estimate.

Brown was unable to provide a breakdown of the pricing estimates provided with each submitted application. O’Connor indicated that price may have had something to do with the selection of North Star over a more local company in his comments Thursday.

“We’re constantly striving, whenever we’re spending the public’s money, to do that in a way that is as cost-effective as possible,” O’Connor said.

The city’s selection committee was made up of five city employees: Patti Mullins, the city’s public information coordinator, Mary Ford Naill, manager of the city’s Department of Economic Development, one manager each from the technology and business development divisions and Katie Barkdoll, the city’s budget director, according to Brown’s email.

Not every board member addressed the city’s branding effort at Thursday’s hearing, with Alderwoman Kelly Russell and Alderman Ben MacShane choosing not to comment before and after the main hearing.

While Russell was not immediately available for comment Friday, MacShane said he chose not to delve into the matter as he believed the comments from his fellow board members and members of the public had sufficiently addressed the issue. Speaking for himself, MacShane reiterated the points made by Russell and Kuzemchak that members of the Board of Aldermen weren’t active participants in the development of the logo. He added that he was never really convinced of the need for a new logo or branding process in the first place.

“The contract with the vendor did not come before the board for approval, nor did the final product come before the board for approval,” MacShane said. “Clearly now the final product has received overwhelmingly negative feedback from the community, and I see no need in continuing to use this if it’s not something that the city wants to represent them.”

Asked whether he supported a renewed process to obtain more public input into a new design or if he’d favor simply returning to the city’s use of the city seal and stylized text — currently used in place of a logo on business cards and letterhead — MacShane said he would support either option, so long as the will of the majority of residents was respected.

“Sometimes the right thing to do is to cut your losses,” MacShane said. “The mayor’s office pursued a project and bought a product that really has not worked out and the money is sunk now, but that doesn’t mean that it’s appropriate to double down and refuse to change course if that’s what the public is asking the city to do.”

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime.

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(86) comments

FCPS-Principal

More nonsense, from the artist-moron contractor-charlatan no doubt: "The blue portion of the logo represents blue skies over the city and the waters of Carroll Creek." Well, then why isn't the bottom of the f blue too? Carroll Creek isn't up in the sky. "The green stands for the city's focus on sustainability and the lush, rural countryside surrounding the city." Rubbish! Is that exemplified by the housing explosion destroying natural habitats galore, the move to expand the asphalt plant and of the community of Walkersville fighting the sustainable solar plant tooth and nail? "The red weather vane is both a homage to the red brick, historic buildings of downtown, as well as an iconic weather vane atop the Trinity Chapel on West Church Street." Well then why isn't the weather vane sticking out the top of the f?? "A yellow block in the middle of the "f" represents the Square Corner in downtown Frederick." Well, what the f? The only way anyone could figure out all this exotic and deeply penetrating symbolism would be to include the explanations in the logo.

Dwasserba

I am torn, because I believe(d) that if you have to explain such a thing, you've already lost the low interest/short attention span viewers. And this is for genrral public consumption. On the other hand, the MD flag itself needs some background info to understand why it's our flag, and not a prototype for clown pants.

Quisling

Seriously, they are going to waste more money and cut North Star another check?

lrichards9

Despite his acknowledgments, O’Connor stopped short of disavowing the unpopular logo entirely, saying he appreciated the hard work put into the process by city staff and the designer Well, I am stopping short of voting for him, as I am sure others are. I encourage him to be decisive as this expensive mistake is more costly than he can imagine.

Dwasserba

He was decisive. Make up your mind.

gardenwhimsey

"Up from the meadows rich with corn, Clear in the cool September morn, The clustered spires of Frederick stand Green-walled by the hills of Maryland. " is part of the John Greenleaf Whittier poem about the legend of Barbara Fritchie (spelled Frietchie by Whittier). Even in my younger days, when you approached Frederick on what is now 270 North, in the area where the overlook is now, your first view of Frederick was dominated by the "clustered spires" of the downtown churches. That view is not as obvious now due to taller buildings going up (especially on Cannon Hill)….My main thought in this logo debacle is, what's wrong with our existing logo, why change it? Has this mayor heard the idioms, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and "leave well enough alone" ? Cut your losses, say you are sorry, keep our current logo as it is, and let's put this behind us. No more sneaking around behind our backs, please.

francesca_easa

Hallelujah. Well put, gardenwhimsey!!!

TheRealAntMan

I believe it's been since the past 20 years Frederick has gone left. The spires representation of conservatism could be the issue for the change in logo. Is this why it is being changed? I am just asking because it is a lot of taxpayer dollars to change all logos in the city, is this a necessary change when crime and opioids are increasing. Put that funding into better areas of need such as foster care and homeless issues.

buckster

We've been f bombed. A logo from a Florida company? Shows our deep historical past. Peter Samuel was right on ….. our existing logo has "Church Steeples", and secularism is rearing it's ugly head again. WHOSE idea was this anyway?

donlshipley

It has been widely acknowledged that the city paid $45,000 to the Jacksonville firm for their work on the strategic plan and city logo redesign. It's likely this was their fee for professional services, but probably did not include outside expenses such as travel, lodging, meals, shipping, etc., which is standard practice in the consulting world. A key question that I don't think has been asked in all this is whether North Star billed its expenses above and beyond the $45,000 fee. Since they are an out of town firm that spent what sounds like a fair amount of time in Frederick, chances are they incurred substantial expenses since they presumably had several members of their team traveling to and from Frederick and spending time on the ground. Is the mayor and/or North Star prepared to disclose whether out-of-pockets incurred by the city and its taxpayers as a direct result of hiring an out of town firm were billed extra, and if so, are they prepared to provide details

DickD

How about the City getting the $45,000 back? Why doesn't O'Connor just appoint a committee and why weren't all of the aldermen involved.

KellyAlzan

$45k is just the start. Re-lettering all the cars and trucks is very labor intensive and expensive. New letterhead. New signs. New envelopes. New uniforms. This ain’t no $45k gig, we’re talking no less than 1/2 a millions dollars when it’s all said and done

sofanna

Agree with refunding the $45,000. back to the City. And, lowering the discretionary spending for any mayor down to $10,000 and reported to the the County Executive PRIOR to spending the money.

Bick Mitchum

People just have to complain...

KellyAlzan

1/2 a million dollars is certainly something to complain about. Do you have any idea of what’s involved in re-lettering all the cars and trucks? New uniforms? New signs? Etc etc etc

mlpogp

Is this a joke? Atrocious couldn't sum it up any better.

Jlee07

Why would they not have enlisted any one of the very talented local agencies, many of whom are Frederick natives—who would have had the most insight and investment into the project. Wouldn’t that just make sense? To support professionals working and living in your community to develop the brand for your community?? If not the local Frederick area, could have at least kept tax payer dollars in the state.

KellyAlzan

A logo change is more than $45k. And not a single person has brought this up. Re-lettering the city cars and trucks and letterhead, envelopes, and employee uniforms will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

threecents

After this fiasco, the only chance Mayor Michael has to be re-elected is if Blaine decides to run in the next election.

DickD

I think Blaine does intend to run. Just look at his recent LTE .

sofanna

Oh please, NO MORE Blaine Young. Hasn't he ruined our County enough, including the City?

Waltsun

$45k ! How is that justified for this stupid logo that has no obvious tie-ins to Frederick? Personally, I don't think there is a darn thing wrong with what we have. If folks felt we needed a change, this could have been accomplished locally by opening up a competition with a $1,000 reward +/- for the winner. If need be an amateur design could be 'fine-tuned" for a reasonable sum by a pro. Although nowadays with the graphics available to most everyone that owns a computer, that likely would not be needed. Furthermore, no matter what the city says, I don't think this was very well-publicized at all. This admin has been doing a good job so far, but this is a step backward. Very much needs a re-do or just stick with what we have.

ma23464

If we really want the logo to reflect the future and what Frederick is becoming we need to be honest. It should symbolize traffic jams, tattoo parlors, brewery’s and medical marijuana.

threecents

If you could combine those with the clustered spires, you might be on to something.

ButterBean

It is inconceivable that the public was not part of this process. How dare the mayor and his “selection committee.” Such arrogance. This is not YOUR Frederick. It’s OUR Frederick. Not only is the new logo hideous, it is nonsensical. Why change it anyway? Because the former had church spires? Is that why the project was kept under wraps? The whole thing stinks to high Heaven. Ironically.

petersamuel

Right on, Butterbean: "...Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." as the Declaration says.

sofanna

Agree with you totally!

mgoose806

Pretty clear the Mayor doesn't care about the thoughts of the Aldermen, Citizen's and the Art Community. Wonder how much of the $45k is getting kicked back to him? Follow the money...somebody is making out on the deal.

KellyAlzan

I suspect it’s a niece or nephew of the mayor’s. Almost positive.

threecents

Why do you say stuff like that?

public-redux

Craves attention.

elymus43

It looks like the BOA are taking the high road on this logo MESS, and letting the mayor get stuck with the problems. If this was another bike trail, nobody would say anything. The problem is Frederick city wants to be like Washington, DC and northern Virginia.

girlpolitic

.

Crusty Frederick Man 64

It’s not really a new city logo, it’s just a ego symbol for the mayor.

sofanna

Agree. And very poor use of taxpayer's money. We didn't need a new logo. This was an ego prop.

pfitzgerald

Frederick is the spires and the spires are Frederick.

sofanna

Absolutely!

Burgessdr

Simple solution. Form a committee. Put out a call for logos. Have the committee decide the winner. Award $2,000 to winning design. The End.

sevenstones1000

How about letting the citizens of Frederick have a look at the finalists and give input?

sofanna

No more money should be spent on this fiasco!!! Committees often get out of control and more money gets spent.

DickD

Thanks Don that is what I would do.

mr_twist27

Ah yes, let's waste another 45k. It's not like we have anything better to do with that money. They literally waste a whole employees salary on a lower case f colored in by a toddler. And the only reason Wilson is speaking out about this is because he is planning on running against O'Connor for mayor.

sofanna

The City budget should be audited asap to see how much other money was used inappropriately.

MD1756

Looks like my first attempt at html after the lesson provided by one of the regular commenters failed. I did get the bold but it didn't end where I thought I placed the command to end. I guess I deserve and "F" but please not the stylized one like North Star's.

public-redux

Try, try again! And again. You’ll get it.

MD1756

"... Each applicant was graded by a selection committee based on several different criteria, including the overall experience of the members of each company’s proposed design team, the project concept and each company’s pricing estimate. Just goes to show that in this case, experience didn't matter as the designed blundered when it failed to head its own warning about blunders.

HappySeller2014

If this logo is trashed, as it should be, will it show up next week in Fargo, ND? Next month in Fairfax, VA? This fall in Fairfiled, CT? This winter in Fredericksburg, VA? Next year in Fresno, CA? Could easily fit for any of these cities. That is why this is a joke snd such a problem. What makes Frederick, MD unique? You think Berkeley Springs, WV you think fresh water baths. You think Niagara Falls, NY you think the falls. You think Appomattox, VA you think the end of the Civil War. What do you think of when you think of Frederick, MD? Surely not a bird flying right to left squawking something with multicolored wings, reminding me of a discombobulated parrot about to poop something out of its constipated tail twisted in knots.

sevenstones1000

This logo would work equally well for Frankfurt, Germany. They, too, have blue skies, green fields, a golden marker square, a story to tell and are moving forward.

DickD

I love your bird description. Happy.

HappySeller2014

This joke of a logo does not differentiate Frederick, MD from any other city in the US. This is a cookie cutter logo. Everyone wants green spaces and has a downtown square. Come on. Put it to a contest among FCPS schoolkids. The spires are beautiful. And unique to us as a city. Use the spires! Do not let some out-of-touch low level staffer from Florida run the show by claiming they are divisive. I call the BS card. Very dumb move by our city government officials. We have the Barbara Fritchie House and had Civil War soldiers in our streets. We have beautiful church steeples and a good flood remediation canal built through the city. Battle of Monocacy nearby saved DC and a copy of the "lost orders" that was uncovered nearby turned the tide of the Civil War. We have plenty of great stuff that differentiate us from Pueblo, CO or Tallahassee, FL or Scranton, PA or wherever. We elected our city officials to use their brains, not abdicate them. Wake up!

KellyAlzan

So, they can find an out of state vendor to make a logo. But they can’t find an out of state developer to build a hotel??

petersamuel

Gardenwhimsey: tidymindedness. The Mayor says he was concerned that different City departments and agencies were each developing their own logo style and he wanted to find a single logo they could all use. The existing logo you mention -- the circle with a painting of spires -- is called the City seal. I think there's proably a case for a simplified version of that, perhaps a line drawing logo that is a take-off of the seal. The mistake was to dump the spires theme, and attempt something completely new. Accorrding to one account some 'woke' person on a design committee said the spires were 'divisive' and 'polarizing' and no one pushed back on that nonsense, so the committee drifted into attempting a totally new symbol. I think the spires and the diversity they represent are a unifying theme. They are certainly loved by most people and well established as the most striking visual feature of Frederick.

girlpolitic

There is a simplified version of the seal. It is displayed as a silhouette in the City's official flag.

public-redux

I’m curious what diversity the spires represent to you?

sevenstones1000

Every town and city in the country has blue skies/waters, green fields/hills/parks and a “golden market square” somewhere. Every town and city in the country is “moving forward” and “has a story”. This really was a “logo in a box”, just waiting for a town that started with the letter “F”. I wouldn’t be surprised if this company has a premade logo for every letter in the alphabet.

Reader1954

seems no reason to change the present logo, but if you must, then how about letting the seniors that wanted to paint their parking spaces compete for a new logo. They surely could do a better job

petersamuel

SBeach: Our "elected officials" (plural) did not decide to spend $45k.... My understanding is that It was never put to the Aldermen by the Mayor. A Mayor is allowed by law to decide unilaterally spending up to $50k and so this project snuck in under that $50k bar. I agree with you that the Mayor's intentions were good, but he has sole responsibiliity for this project. He messed up badly. He has said that himself.

sbeach9638

petersamuel: Thank you for clarifying my acknowledgement of elected official(s). It would seem that only one elected official was "driving the bus" while the rest had no idea where the bus was headed until it kind of "crashed". I appreciate when someone respectfully helps me see what I failed to "read". Thanks!

sofanna

The mayor should be required to refund the money directly to the Treasurer of Frederick, out of his own pocket. I think in this economic era the mayor should only be allowed to spend $10,000 or less without Alderperson approval. This is pathetic. You think "He messed up badly." This mayor and some of the Board of Alderpersons have been messing up badly over the past 5 years.

GreenSeaTurtle

Agreed, the mayor needs to refund the taxpayers.

petersamuel

Mr Bryan: if the City has to stick with Florida-based North Star for contractual reasons the City should be able to negotiate with that company an agreement that they would sub-contract the logo design to local Frederick arts/designers. Or North Star could be fired for incompetence. A logo so pathetic as the one they produced, that is considered atrocious by 84% of the people and all the Aldermen is surely a breach of contract on North Star's part.

elmerchismo1

“It’s welcoming, it’s diverse, it’s historic..." Well, not really. It's a design that needs to be explained before you have any idea what it's supposed to represent, and even then it's generic: blue skies, green grass, a square and a ?weathervane? Once they tell you what it is you could apply it to almost any town anywhere.

llrowse

Cost free solution: Support a competition among FCPS students to create a new logo. They’ll do a great job.

KellyAlzan

Since the proposed hotel will destroy the view of the spires, I see why a new logo is needed. The city will No longer have clustered spired. Therefore. The current logo will not be appropriate. With all the recent shootings, maybe a logo with a handgun would be more fitting?

EABiker

Well, the new logo is quite the cluster...

KellyAlzan

:)

MD1756

... of spires? [lol]

sofanna

The proposed hotel has neither been funded or contracted, that we Citizens are aware. Regardless, a new logo is NOT needed.

bryan

First- our mayor is doing a very good job overall, and it is disappointing to see this logo issue giving him such bad reviews. I am pleased to see that he admits there were mistakes made in the process and it appears he will rectify it. Next, I have been involved in many branding and logo development efforts in my career in marketing and sales and there is a lot to developing a good logo and stakeholders tend to get very emotionally involved. The city of Frederick seal is NOT a logo, it is a seal. It is nice, and we are used to it but it is not reproducible in various mediums. I understand various city departments were developing their own and there was no consistency in branding across the departments. I DO believe we need a good logo as we are Maryland’s second largest city and we are often interfacing with people and cities from out of state. I do not like the new logo, it does not represent Frederick’s soul, in my opinion. Good marketing best practices never recommend a logo contest as this gets even more emotionally involved and at a deeper level and never goes well, and even more people get upset. Just ask Shockley Honda about this when they did it some years ago. Then there are legal issues: just ask the Ravens who did a logo contest back in the 90’s and they ended up settling for millions with someone who designed a logo that looked very much like the one they designed. The Ravens ended up redesigning to a new logo for more millions. Using a local firm, bidding publicly is good. But since we’ve already sunk $45k I hope the Mayor goes back to the original firm for a complete redo. Mayor: Make a decision, then make it right.

hbmindy

Thank you for the most reasonable response in all of this. I agree 100%. The mayor has been doing a good job and it's a shame to see him getting so much flack over something like a logo design. It would be great if even half of the people who are so enraged over a marketing campaign actually came out to city meetings or got involved in other pressing issues in the city. First world problems much? Have the company go back to the drawing board on the logo, maybe with a local graphic artist contracted to do the art. But good graphic design and branding aren't free. Artists should be paid for their work. The idea of a contest being put forth by the alderman is disrespectful to professional artists and designers. How would he like doing his job for a prize instead of actual pay?

sofanna

Supposedly the Mayor did this on his own. How would attending city meetings have stopped this? It wouldn't have. What difference would it make? It seems certain elected individuals are allowed to do whatever they want, even if it's criminal.

sbeach9638

First, I am appalled at the fact that our elected officials thought it was worthy to spend $45,000 on a logo. Second, I am shocked at the blatant insensitivity of these elected officials who slapped this "community of the arts" in the face by going beyond the talent of the city limits to find such precious new logo. Finally, when and where was it discussed with the community the concern that we needed a "new" logo? This ignorance of our elected officials has open my eyes to the need to scrutinized who is running in the next election. I still can't get over the $45,000 these officials so easily agreed to spend!

LeonardKeepers

this logo thing is utterly ridiculous,to me there is nothing wrong with the present logo and comes under the heading of if it ain't broke don't fix it.$45,000 dollars for the project is deplorable and it points to our elected officials who thought this up is very foolish with nothing better to do than to waste taxpayer money.

KMRD1

Tax and spend Democrats hard at work spending our tax payers money.

KellyAlzan

This proposed logo has zero reflection of the city’s heritage and culture. What’s wrong with the existing logo?????

Dwasserba

It's the kind of logo that has to be interpreted how it represents us. Which is an extra step we're not used to. Our current logo probably does better represent us as quaint fuddyduddies. It's like an image makeover. A beacon. Bring your manbun and preferred pronoun, we cool.

KellyAlzan

:)

DickD

Doesn't give anyone money.

gardenwhimsey

I took another look at that hideous proposed logo and it occurred to me that the Florida based company may have pawned off a logo they may have tried to sell to the Seminole Indians in Florida...similar color scheme, the supposed " f " looks a lot like an "s" and the thing on the right looks like an arrow....hmmmmmm, very interesting, something to ponder.

mdcommuter

It appears to me that North Star Ideas has no artistic talent. Most of the logos they showcase on their website (https://northstarideas.com/work/) are just as unappealing as the one they developed for Frederick.

gardenwhimsey

"...Since the main logo was unveiled in an official city Facebook post July 2..." I've never been on Facebook and will never go on Facebook. I get my info from the city website and from my local paper. My main question, WHY SHOULD WE CHANGE THE EXISTING LOGO of the clustered spires?

Learch

[thumbup]

mmfr55

where is CD and Pappy ?

sofanna

AGREE!

Pattyblackw

TOTALLY AGREE!!![thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

DickD

[thumbup]

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