Farewell, Frederick city logo, we hardly knew ye. And that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, we suspect that there are a lot more of you out there saying “good riddance.”

Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor delivered the news of the death of this much-ridiculed city logo at a press conference Monday morning. There had been rumors late last week that the logo, designed by a Jacksonville, Florida, company, was going away. Yet at the same time, city leaders were still handing out fresh business cards and signing emails emblazoned with the new logo. Now, as the mayor said, they’ll be quickly recalling those business cards and anything else that might remind us of this marketing disaster for the town.

The short-lived logo featured a lowercase “f” and four colors, green, yellow, blue and red, which were meant to represent the city of Frederick’s history and character. But it didn’t represent much to anyone other than a $45,000 boondoggle and a process fraught with problems. The city didn’t need either.

“Based on the feedback we received, we are not going to use the logo component of our branding process,” O’Connor said at the presser. “We are taking it out of circulation and we are moving as fast as we can to pull back.”

We will give O’Connor some credit for taking the blame and reversing course. We’ve all seen instances over the years that other elected officials might not have been so quick to take the heat or, worse, would have been quick to pass the buck after the loud backlash from the community. So that’s good.

That caveat aside, the process surrounding Frederick’s logo has been a lesson in how government shouldn’t work. Change is never easy, but it’s almost impossible when the community isn’t given a significant voice in the process. Though city officials have said some were consulted, the outpouring of negativity says they must have been asking the wrong people. It would have been unwieldy to have a vote on a particular design, but it would have only made sense to host a public meeting or two to keep people abreast of the process. It also didn’t help that the company selected to design the logo wasn’t from around here.

Frankly, we’re still scratching our heads wondering how anyone in city government would have seen this turning out differently. The only possible answer we have is that no one thought it was going to matter. But when it comes to a city such as Frederick, it’s going to matter. A lot. A proud city has a sense of tradition and a sense of place, which means residents and business leaders are going to have strong ownership of something as visible as a logo.

If O’Connor and other elected officials have learned anything from all of this, it should be that community involvement should be top of mind and not an afterthought.

(31) comments

Tom Carbo

OK, so it was a $45,000 misadventure. I'm certain that the city is still way ahead in terms of value with this mayor whom I commend for not dodging the subject and taking resposibility for it. Truth is, no logo will make everyone happy anyway. At best the most you can ever expect is that some will love a logo and others will be indifferent to it.


The Frederick City Budget is in excess of $162,000,000 (this is the 2018 budget - and it has more impact when you write all those zeroes). This $45,000 is 0.04% of the budget. Less than ONE HALF OF ONE percent.

I mean, die mad about the city wasting money and all, but maybe we're mad about the wrong thing here.

I would LOVE to see the same level of public outcry and coming together for citywide issues like affordable housing, helping homeless individuals get back on their feet etc.


If I could like this, I would. What about the homeless people that are found dead in the creek, with regularity? But thats ok Frederick, lets continue the obsessive focus on tourism but not handle blighted buildings or the root causes of the increasing homeless populations. Because, you know, it doesn't matter until one of them dies in one of the many creek fountains... (heavy sarcasm here)




I agree with you Rick.


I agree with you RankStranger

Business Owner

Continuing this story is nuts. It was a mistake by the Mayor, he admitted it now can everyone just move on? There are more serious issues (growth, crime, youth services, homelessness, etc.) that need our attention more than a crappy logo.


We need the FNP to do more in-depth reporting. Neeed the true cost, shirts and biz cards have been made (but not limited to), what’s all this cost? I use graphic designers at our enterprise. They do as directed. So, why were they told to can the clustered spires? And who instructed them?


This isn't all on the Mayor. The board of aldermen arr just as much to blame. Some of the decision being made from this group are garbage. Other then Russell they all need voted out.


That forty-five thousand dollar mistake should be deducted from the paychecks of the mayor and everyone else who had a "say" in choosing the puzzling "f" logo. I am glad they realized that most everyone else hated it, but no one in the mayor's office has mentioned the sheer waste of taxpayer money that ended with, "We don't need a new city logo at this time." Who puts that back in the city coffers?!


So as a comms professional, I can perhaps shed light on what went wrong from a design aspect. If the companies other work is solid, perhaps the issue was the client's taste level/preferences. Its a big X factor in the design, and ultimately you can recommend other options until you are blue in the face. The client has the last say. Many amazing logo designs have been killed in this fashion. Also, from a professional's standpoint, the design was very poor. Illegible and unsophisticated. Also tone deaf on selecting a out of state design firm. You can do better Frederick!


I agree with every word of the editorial. Two issues remain a mystery: 1. The Mayor said Monday that future City graphics will be based on the clustered spires, which are the accepted and beloved visual representation of the city. But why did the logo development with the Florida consultant North Star dump the spires for the odd ‘F’? Who made that stupid recommendation? 2. A glance at North Star’s website (https://northstarideas.com/work/) shows the company normally does good to excellent logo designs. The F-logo we got was not in the same class of work. It was a silly, amateurish, clumsy crock of a design, not up to the normal North Star standard? What went wrong? Did they put an intern or new recruit on the Frederick job? Or were Frederick officials responsible? Of note: North Star has just removed the F-logo from its ‘work’ page.


Debacle? I think not. Perhaps a misstep. Is there license for editorials as there is for poetry? If so, this is the time to use it.

Business Owner

I agree!


So first it's $45K for the logo and now more money spent for other things already branded. What is going to be the final total price tag for this mess?




Biggest city blunder in a long time, this won't be forgotten anytime soon.


I give it two weeks, at best.


Like we haven't forgotten the Blaine gang? [lol]


why call back the items already out there. Use up the cards etc. until gone instead of wasting even more money to replace them.


How much was spent on shirts already. They are out there already in circulation but being recalled. More than $45K spent already.


Shirts? Can we buy shirts? Maybe we can raise 45K by selling f-shirts. [smile]


Especially if the name preceding it is Trump.


EXCELLENT IDEA Dick! "F" stands for Trump! Love it... I want to order a dozen shirts! "FREDERICK FOR TRUMP" How many shirts you ordering Dick?


Preceding? Trump f?


No. Bugs. No Frederick for Trump. If I meant that I would have said that.


Gabe, you are right. Put Trump's name afterwards.


Buy buy buy! Collectors' item 2119


Love it. Stuff with the F-logo will have great scarcity value -- collectors items -- with the Mayor chasing it down. He'll need to supervise the incineration or it will slip out into a collectors' black market.


This is really a good idea.


They'll be collectors items.

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