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New Estacada logo draws mixed reviews

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The city of Estacada's new logo was created as a result of a year long branding process.

Change is never easy.

This adage was proved true again when the city of Estacada unveiled its new logo.

City leaders posted the logo to the city’s Facebook page Feb. 8. The reaction has been mixed.

A city branding committee worked with Jennifer Larsen Morrow of Creative Company in McMinnville to develop three variations of the logo. All three feature the Clackamas River running through the word “Estacada” and include the words “Unexpected,” “Untamed” and “Unforgettable.”

The Estacada News posted the logo to its Facebook page and received 38 comments as of this week, the majority of which were not in favor of it. Many felt the logo does not capture the essence of Estacada.

One of those who responded, Teryl Hoffmann, wished it included Christmas trees and the Timber Festival, things she feels the city is known for.

“It misses the cornerstone of our community,” she said.

Jim Beltramo feels similarly.

“We need a logo that says something about our history, what we have to offer and give people a good reason for coming out to see what a great town we have,” he said.

Many also feel the word “Estacada” is crossed out by the river. Additionally, many think the “un” prefix carries a negative connotation.

“The logo makes it seem like we’re the “un” city,” said Mary Whitney, co-owner of Whitney Signs. “We’re not putting our best foot forward (with the logo).” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Mary Whitney of Whitney Signs created an alternative city of Estacada logo and posted it to Facebook.

Last week, Whitney created an alternative logo that she posted to Facebook. Her logo features Mount Hood, the Clackamas River, an evergreen tree and the slogan “Let the adventure begin.”

Whitney said she would have submitted a logo during the branding process but never saw an opportunity to do so. She said she would have done the work free of charge.

“I don’t care about the money,” Whitney said. “It’s fun, and inviting. We need to keep things lighthearted here.”

But not everyone is disappointed by the logo.

“I love that the river stands out,” said Paulina Menchaca. “I love the Clackamas River, and I love that it’s so prominent. The river is a huge aspect of our community.”

City manager Denise Carey agrees.

“I like that they pulled in the river,” Carey said. “It’s refreshing.”

Menchaca does not think the “un” words have a negative connotation.

“It’s important to remember what those “un” words are,” Menchaca said. “Unexpected isn’t negative, and in a really good way, there are a lot of unexpected things here (in Estacada). Estacada is untamed because of all its natural beauty. And unforgettable is definitely not negative.”

Peggy Price, a graphic designer who created the former Estacada Area Chamber of Commerce logo, also likes the role the river plays in the new design.

“The concept for this logo is apt,” Price said. “The river plays a significant role for Estacada and is typically associated with it, so integrating that as a graphic element was a logical choice.”

But Price thinks the logo would benefit from greater contrast between the river and letters in order to make it apparent that the water is flowing through the words.

“(It could) easily be accomplished by changing those colors and using a heavier weight font,” she suggested.

Creating a streamlined identity

Mayor Brent Dodrill initiated the branding campaign because he felt it was important for the city to have a consistent identity.

Slogans such as “Gateway to the Clackamas” and “Close to everything but away from it all” have been used to describe the city. Dodrill felt it would be valuable for the city to have streamlined marketing materials given its new developments, particularly the Broadway Street renovations, new cycling plaza and location along the Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway.

“We wanted to have a consistent message,” Dodrill said. “When people see Estacada, we want them to immediately be able to identify it.”

The branding committee consisted of Dodrill, Bennett Johnson, Connie Redmond, Jackie Groce, Jane Reid, Marla Stephenson, Melanie Wagner, Nancy Hoffman, Paul Strobel, Phil Lingelbach and Robyn Beisell. They worked with Larsen Morrow for a year to develop the logo and brand.

The brand also includes written descriptions and photos that celebrate Estacada. In particular, it focuses on what makes Estacada unique and includes key messages about access to the forest, the local art scene and the Clackamas River.

“Grab two fat tires or one big paddle. Cycle, paddle, float, ramble or climb,” one of the brand’s statements reads. “Immerse yourself in trees, sky, water; summer’s greens and winter’s whites. Or wander through town to discover our history in murals, explore galleries and stop for a local craft beer.”

The descriptions and photos will be used on marketing materials for the city.

Creative Company’s services cost $19,800. The Estacada Development Association received two grants totaling $6,000 for the rebranding effort.

The committee received three bids for the branding process and ultimately chose Larsen Morrow’s.

“Jennifer’s proposal was put together in a well done way,” Dodrill said. “(She presented) a good process. It was really clear: ‘This is the process and these are the kind of results you’ll get’.”

To create the city’s logo and brand, Larsen Morrow held a series of meetings with the committee to determine what made Estacada unique.

“We looked at what stands out in the community, and what no one else can lay claim to,” she said.

From these meetings, Larsen Morrow crafted the logo and branding for the town.

“Estacada has an eclectic combination of opportunities for outdoor recreation and art,” she said. “It’s unexpected to drive into a small town and find (the town’s) murals. Untamed is the wilderness. Estacada’s not urban. It’s not the next city. And it’s unforgettable because you’re not going to forget your time here.”

Community Involvement

Dodrill wanted to the community included in the branding process.

“I was disheartened to hear that people felt there were a lack of opportunities,” Dodrill said. “We really did try to get the word out.”

A year ago Dodrill encouraged anyone interested to participate in the process in an Estacada News article.

“I would be glad to sit down with anybody,” Dodrill said in a February 2015 issue of the newspaper. The News also ran articles about the branding process in November 2014, and last May and December.

The committee sought feedback during the Broadway Street Extravaganza and the Community Summit of Estacada.

Redmond said she surveyed 10 businesses on several potential logos and committee members sought comments from people camping in the area last Memorial Day weekend.

But some feel this was not enough.

“(The branding process) wasn’t well publicized,” said Whitney. “There was just a select group of people on the community. There wasn’t enough community input.”

Jordan Winthrop, who owns two technology-based businesses in Estacada, said more input would have been valuable. Winthrop submitted a proposal for the branding process that included extensive community outreach using social media and technology.

“I wanted to give the whole community a chance to state their opinion,” he said. “We could have had 3,500 people excited and sharing in the process.”

Sharon Darcy, an Estacada resident who responded to The News’ Facebook post, felt the process lacked publicity and transparency.

“How did this happen?” she asked. “I’m tired of hearing about how hard this committee worked surveying and coming up with this eyesore. I’d really like to see the numbers on the survey.”

Some members of the branding committee felt the process lacked community inclusion, as well.

City councilor Sean Drinkwine initially joined the branding committee, but left because he disagreed with its direction.

“(The committee) was going further away from what people (in the community) want, and more toward what we think is best,” Drinkwine said. “There wasn’t enough communication with the public. We didn’t go all out.”

Increased communication

Wagner said the reactions highlight the difficulties in communication and reaching a wide range of people.

“I think (the reactions are) an indication that it’s hard to get people’s attention,” Wagner said. “It’s a good reminder to keep reaching out.”

Dodrill hopes new efforts for communication will allow community members to feel engaged with the city.

“We’ll ask, ‘How do we keep citizens involved?” he said. “Even in a small community, it’s hard to keep everyone engaged.”

During its 2016 goal setting workshop in January, the City Council highlighted increased communication as a focus for the coming year.

Once step city leaders have taken toward that goal is adding a newsletter in the monthly water bill. They also hope to use their Facebook page more extensively.

Official launch

The city will officially launch the new brand with a town hall meeting 6:30-7:30 p.m. March 10 at The Mossy Rock, 389 S. Broadway St.

In addition to the city’s new logo, city officials will have additional marketing materials created as a part of the branding process.

Dodrill will discuss how the brand communicates Estacada’s identity and assets, how the city will roll out the branding and how local groups can use the material.

Wagner hopes seeing the marketing materials that came along with the logo will allow the brand to grow on people.

“I don’t think you get the full effect with the stark white background (of the logo),” he said. “I think it will be good for people to see the photos. And the language adds a lot.”

Dodrill hopes Estacada remains unified during the change.

“I hope we can process the change together as a community,” Dodrill said. “I hope we can work through this as a community and not get stuck on it.”

ELindstrand@estacadanews.com

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