The new logo is a dark blue square inside a larger, lighter blue square. Simple, spare, modern. Does it embody Prince William County in all its blue-squaredness? Some say no, and one Prince William supervisor wants the county to “cease, desist and rescind” the proposed logo from county letterheads and property.
“It doesn’t do anything for the county,” Supervisor John D. Jenkins (D-Neabsco) said. “It’s two empty boxes. There’s no reference to the rich history of the county.”
Jenkins thinks the Board of County Supervisors should have been more directly involved in the logo’s approval and has introduced a resolution for Tuesday’s board meeting that directs County Executive Melissa S. Peacor to trash it.
County spokesman Jason Grant said that the logo, which cost $750 to develop, emerged from a two-year economic development process and that it had been presented to all of the supervisors before its gradual unveiling to the public.
“The idea to develop a logo did not come from county staff,” Grant said. “It came from a group of citizens appointed by the board of supervisors to serve on the economic development task force.”
In August 2010, the group, composed of business executives and government officials, released a 25-page report suggesting strategies to improve Prince William’s economic development. One of the many ideas, Grant noted, was to hire “a nonpartisan third-party contractor” to develop “a logo design that will be used in all Prince William County marketing materials.”
But Prince William’s voracious political blogging community quickly savaged it.
“Meaningless, utter tripe . . . two nondescript squares,” wrote Greg Letiecq on Black Velvet Bruce Li. A “grotesque new logo,” wrote Jim Riley on Virginia Virtucon. “So, basically, they’re going for the Seinfeld approach — a county about nothing.”
Jenkins was opposed to the logo from the start and much prefers the county seal, which evokes the county’s agrarian history with tobacco leaves. Jenkins said it has been in use as far back as 1856.
“What’s wrong with the progress that we’ve made with the current seal?” the longtime supervisor said. “We’re one of the fastest-growing, richest counties in the nation. Why get out there and confuse people?”
But Grant said the county was looking to borrow a strategy from Madison Avenue. He cited logos such as the Nike swoosh, the multicolored Google Chrome circle, the BP flower and the Starbucks mermaid as logos that don’t indicate athletic wear or a Web browser but were associated with their brands over time.
The county received some criticism for awarding the job to an out-of-state company, but Grant said, “If you have a contractor you’re familiar with and you can get it done for a low cost, you do it. That’s savings.”
“The brand is the connotation, it’s not a literal meaning,” Grant said. “It is a new logo. The connotation isn’t there because it’s not affiliated with anything yet. . . . Does it literally represent Prince William County? No. That’s not the type of logo we designed. It shows there’s a sense of place, there’s a cornerstone, it’s corporate, all these things that people will fill in.”
Without commenting on the aesthetics of the logo, Supervisor Peter Candland (R-Gainesville) said he was “very concerned about the process that was used to design and employ this new county logo, and we need a lot more answers before I feel comfortable.” Candland said he wanted to discuss the issue of transparency in developing the logo with the rest of the board on Tuesday as well as “how we want Prince William County to be represented moving forward.”
Grant said the logo was well received among county departments — it would not be used by the public safety agencies, supervisors or county attorneys, who would still use the county seal — and it was presented to all of the supervisors individually except for Jenkins, who acknowledged that he “refused to participate in a conversation on it.” Grant said most of the supervisors liked the logo.
Supervisor Martin E. Nohe (R-Coles) told PotomacLocal.com that he approves of the logo and that “we need to move forward with a better marketing strategy.” Nohe did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Board Chairman Corey A. Stewart (R) said there was “a need for a unified logo” for the county, to replace multiple logos in use by different county agencies. But the new block logo “apparently isn’t it because there’s too many strong feelings against it. I don’t need to push it and make this an issue that divides the board.”
Jenkins thought the board should have approved the logo before it ever went public. He criticized Peacor, the county executive, saying, “she loses the support of board members when she tries to go around them. That’s not the way you do business and she should know that.”
Peacor declined to comment.