After months of revisions and community input, on Monday, July 9, Birmingham city commissioners finally approved a resolution directing staff to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to solicit a professional firm to build on existing logo efforts for a new city logo.
The city has been working on creating a new logo for about two years, when designers at McCann Detroit responded to a previous RFP sent out to advertising, public relation and design firms in order to have the city of Birmingham's logo rebranded. The city set aside $5,000 for the project, which McCann acknowledged would not really cover the work, so they made it an internal competition, with their designers competing and the winner receiving the $5,000 as a stipend.
However, in June 2017, when McCann showed their results, commissioners felt the logos presented were a “work in progress,” which needed to be refined. One design included an icon of the Marshall Fredericks sculpture located in Shain Park, with Birmingham: A Walkable City, in classic typeface, which was preferred by the agency and the ad hoc committee, but the commission felt no one could identify it. Others were deemed too generic.
The current city logo features a tree.
At the time Joellen Haines, assistant to city manager Joe Valentine, said McCann Detroit and the ad hoc brand development committee (BBDC) felt their goal was to establish a new brand through a new logo that communicated the city’s image in a positive, evolving and refreshing way.
A January 2018, public online survey revealed that most people preferred an image with trees. In April, commissioners were initially split between just keeping the current city logo and having Haines work on developing a new RFP for a new firm to continue the design process. At the time, commissioner Mark Nickita was emphatic that the city of Birmingham deserved a dynamic, new logo.
“It's our brand. Personally, I think it's subpar,” Nickita said at the April 23 meeting. “Having something like this for 30 years or so is where it began. I for one feel if Royal Oak and Ferndale and other communities can upgrade theirs, so can we.”
On July 9, Haines informed commissioners staff had developed the requested RFP “to build on what we already have, from stakeholders, meetings, the community, and our survey.”
“We're going to give potential firms broad reach and the ability to review all of the previous material,” Haines said. “We'll give the commission the ability to narrow the choices.”
Mayor pro tem Patty Bordman said she didn't want to squelch their creativity.
“A lot of firms like to start fresh, but we don't need them to reinvent the wheel,” noted commissioner Pierre Boutros. “They need to work with what we've learned – that's just common sense.”
Commissioners voted 7-0 to approve sending out the RFP.