Gainesville brands


Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 10:33 p.m.
Back in December I offered my opinion on the new packaged pitch for industry and tourists that transformed Gainesville into the place "where every path starts with passion." The brand came with a nifty looking logo with the "s" in the middle of Gainesville transformed into a sweeping green pathway and the new catchy phrase running underneath.
If there's one thing I've learned in the past few weeks, it's that many of you are passionately displeased with Gainesville's new "brand."
A consulting company was paid $76,000 to create it, and I offered the challenge to readers to come up with their own brand alternatives.
John Sloan, a graphic designer who lives in Alachua, took the bait. He kept the blue green colors, killed off the path and turned the "i" in Gainesville into a tall tree, and coined his own two-part pitch, "Our past is our strength" runs across the top, "our future is our passion" runs underneath.
Sloan wasn't impressed with the official version and didn't think those who'd invested in the new city brand got their money's worth.
"It didn't speak to me at all," Sloan says.
Brady Crom, a graphic designer who admits he'd like Gainesville to stay the same, offered a brand adorned with compass designs which convey the many directions one can take in Gainesville. He sees Gainesville as Florida's CrossRoad of "Nature, Nurture and Culture."
Crom's complaint with the adopted brand, echoed what many of those who responded had to say.
"I don't think it says too much about Gainesville," he says.
There are folks who do certainly have a passion for Gainesville. Cat Beazley of Alachua sees Gainesville as a place for dreams to be realized. She borrowed some inspiration from Gainesville's favorite rock 'n' roll son, Tom Petty, when suggesting "Runnin' Down A Dream" as an alternate slogan to run under the current brand, although she would add a little gator running down that big "s" pathway.
Marilyn Walker points to "The Wizard of Oz," for inspiration that also echoes Gator announcer Mick Hubert. "Rivers and Springs and Cultural Things ... Oh My!"
Denny Cautrell reasoned, "The proverbial heart of any city is where all things begin, and any ending worth having should begin with heart." So for his motto he suggested, "Gainesville: The Endings Begin Here." And for style the message criss-crossed like a crossword puzzle through Gainesville.
Arnall Downs was kind enough to point out that in 1995 the City of Gainesville and Alachua County both agreed on a motto, actually two of them, and 24 different symbols they saw as representative of our community, including a Cloudless Sulfur butterfly, Eastern Indigo snake, Sandhill Crane, Live Oak, Chickasaw plum, Spanish Moss and limestone.
And for the mottoes, you have a choice, "True to our Nature!" or the eloquent Latin "Edete ptisanae aut mormini," which translates (and as Dave Barry used to write, I'm not making this up) to "Eat grits or die!"
Viola Sweeney submitted a hand sketched offering with the outline of a large oak she identifies as the "Tree of Life of Gainesville," and inscribed across the tree are "sports, business, academia, family, religion, health and energy."
Jeanne Wiant offered, "Every Gain starts with a vision." While Victoria Godshall suggested, "Off the beaten path," or "Off the beaten path with the UF Gators." The Gators and the University of Florida also figured into Eric Warm's suggestion. Warm says if UF is the foundation of the Gator Nation, "Gainesville is the destination of the Gator Nation," and the logo would have to be orange and blue.
Former Gainesville City Commission candidate Gabriel - that's how he was on the ballot, one name only - also was thinking orange and blue, but an orange and blue butterfly, with the motto, "Gainesville - 4 C's - creative, cooperative, compassionate community."
Rob Holland's suggestion needed a bit of an explanation. Holland said he and his wife enjoy visiting Chicago and consider it one of the few large cities they'd ever consider if they were to move from Gainesville. Gainesville, he explains, is a large city, compared to those around it, and there's a lot to do here, so "Gainesville the Chicago of North Central Florida," is his suggestion.
For several readers, the do-it-yourself brand challenge offered an opportunity to point out some of the imperfections here in paradise. Ray Bender offered this litany of variations on the new brand: "Where every path is a two-lane road."
"Where every path has a bump and a circle."
"Where every path has a passion for road rage."
"Where every passion is a path to road rage."
"Where every path requires a passionate and expensive consultant."
Hale Sutherland suggested a logo of a clown in a swamp hugging a tree with a pitch - slightly toned down for a family newspaper - the chamber of commerce won't be too crazy about: "We're Key West without the sunsets, Boulder without the mountains, Austin without money and music, San Francisco without seafood and chocolate, Ann Arbor with 17 fewer Nobel laureates, We're just . . . weird!"
Adelaide Lundsford suggests a logo in all shades of green with the slogan, "Gainesville, where there are more and better trees than jobs."
Bob Freeman offered up a double-dose of editorial comment, doing it with "all the passion I could muster." His dollar sign-emitting martini glass with the message, "Where every developer starts with $$$$," makes one point. His second try offered a twist on the real thing, "Gainesville Homeless, every path ends at a campsite."
John S. Clark's message began, "Gary Baby . . . Let's get real!!" His point was Gainesville is never going to be Miami Beach or Orlando, so what's all the fuss. But my pun-finding brain put a positive spin on that message, "Let's Get Real!!" is what makes Gainesville different from Orlando, where all of the sizzle is man-made. And while we won't ever be Miami or New York, the tourists who do find their way here drop a hefty chunk of change. Last year the county's bed tax, the 3 percent charge added to hotel bills, totaled up to just over $2 million, up 25 percent over the year before.
So that means hotels and motels alone brought in nearly $67 million, and the 1.6 people the county figures stay in each room are also eating, shopping and pumping gas, so it all adds up nicely.
Like me, Norma Zeman was perfectly happy with the old slogan used by the Alachua County Visitors and Convention Bureau, "Where nature and culture meet," and she also sees an untruth in the now official brand.
"All paths do not begin with passion. Indeed, think of all that happens after hours, days, weeks of deliberation or just by chance or through a confluence of circumstances. Big decisions such as college, choosing a major, a career, a spouse, finding friendships . . . these paths don't necessarily begin with passion, and if they do, watch out. People are often better off without passion while thinking things through, especially when the decision will be life changing," Zeman writes.
Gary Kirkland can be reached at 338-3104 or kirklag@gvillesun.com.

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