Council discusses Caribou rebranding proposal

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou City Council discussed a proposal to rebrand the city, primarily through the creation of a new logo, during a Jan. 28 meeting, but did not make any formal decisions on the matter.

The project proposal, as outlined by the city, includes three phases.

The first phase begins in January with a commitment from city council and departments to change the logo, an announcement, press release and invitation of committee members from the community. In February, this committee would brainstorm, research and create the first rough round of logos. This would continue until May, with each round of logos for the month being edited and reviewed.

The second phase would begin in May, when the committee narrows down and performs final edits to the top three choices. In June, a booth would be set up during the city’s Thursdays on Sweden Street festival in which residents could weigh in and vote on their favorite logo. Then, in July, final revisions would take place, variations on this logo would be created for each department and the selection would be presented to the city council.

Phase three would take place from August to December, depending on funding, and include rolling out and applying the logo throughout the city. Each department and its vehicles would have a new logo, and the current logo on all social media, the web side, bills, letterhead, envelopes, and city signage would be replaced with the new one.

The estimated cost to complete the project on all buildings, vehicles and city-branded items ranges from $50,000 to $80,000 to complete while vehicle wraps and signage would need to be put out to bid. 

Caribou Marketing and Events Coordinator Christina Kane-Gibson joined the city council via Zoom, and welcomed the council’s thoughts on the proposal. 

“I think we’re at a point where we need to decide if we want to move forward on it and commit some time, energy and funds to a new logo and rebranding effort,” she said, adding that the change is a significant commitment.

“It’s not something we can do halfway,” Kane-Gibson said.

Councilor Thom Ayer suggested letting the PreK-8 students at Caribou Community School design the new logo.

“I think this would be a good project to get them involved in the community,” he said. “I talked to [Superintendent] Tim Doak and he seemed open about the idea. However they want to structure it, by grade or class, it’s always good to get the kids involved in the community.”

Kane-Gibson said that while she loves the idea of working with local kids on other city projects, she would not recommend having them design the city’s new logo.

“We want to keep our logo really professional looking,” she said. “I definitely think there is a way to work with kids and have fun doing it, but I wouldn’t recommend that for the city logo.”

Councilor Doug Morrell said that with buildings in the city in desperate need of repair, he personally could not justify spending $50,000 to $80,000 on a logo when the city is currently facing greater needs. 

Ayer, who was taken aback when Morrell read out the price estimate, asked why the rebranding costs were so high.

Kane-Gibson said she arrived at the estimate through prior experiences, and that the city has a large fleet of vehicles and several buildings.

“You have to change everything for it to be an effective campaign, so I did make a roundabout estimate. And I agree with Councilor Morrell, it’s gotta be something you’re really ready to do, and want to do. It does take a commitment, ” she said.

Caribou City Manager Dennis Marker asked if there was any possibility that the rebranding effort could involve a slow rollout, with changes taking place over time rather than a complete reveal of the new logo in all areas.

“Successful branding is all about cohesion, so it really can’t be half and half. Right now, looking at our branding, it’s not strong. Everyone has a different logo, the rec has a different logo than the city, and the library is using something different. You would have to change all of those things to bring everybody to a cohesive look, so that’s where that money comes from. I would not recommend doing it slowly. We go big or go home,” Kane-Gibson said.

Councilor Mark Goughan asked if the new logo could include the name of the city, as the current logo includes an image of a Caribou circled by the phrase “The Most Northeastern City of the United States.”

“I’ve attended two previous logo committee meetings over the last 25 to 30 years and there’s been two attempts to do this,” he said. “And then it came up with this logo and we never put Caribou on it.”

Kane-Gibson agreed, and said in late 2020 she sent out some logos to the city council for their review, but only heard back from former councilor Hugh Kirkpatrick. Goughan said he did not receive this email, and before moving onto the next agenda item mayor Jody Smith asked Kane-Gibson if she could email those logos to the council again.