Thursday, October 28, 2010

Logo Revised

It's a start in the right direction.  Apparently Smart People Smart Place was already spoken for. Perhaps a little due diligence next time SkyDesign copies creates a tag line and logo.  And someone is on the hook for $10,000 in logo gear.  Perhaps a Groupon or the Aha! Connection lady can help clear out the Smart Place merchandise.

Councilman Wittenstein's Update


Councilmen Wittenstein and Shortal frequently put out 'updates' via email.  I suggest emailing each of them and sign up.  I think it's great these two (both from District 1) do this.  Here is Councilman Wittenstein's latest update:


Dear Dunwoody Friends and Neighbors,

There is one Dunwoody city item on the November 2 ballot and I’d like to encourage you to vote NO on it. The item is as follows:
City of Dunwoody Homestead Exemption
"Shall the Act be approved which amends the homestead exemption from City of Dunwoody ad valorem taxes for municipal purposes in an amount equal to the amount by which the current year assessed value of a homestead exceeds the base year assessed value of such homestead by eliminating the automatic sunset so that the exemption continues indefinitely?" H.B. 1319 Act 562
This item is well-meaning, but in my opinion, misguided. If passed, it will set up the Dunwoody tax code so that new residents pay more taxes than long-time residents. 
If it passes, then over time as your property increases in value you’ll receive a credit on your property taxes equal to the tax on the increase in value.   When you sell your home to a new Dunwoody resident, the credit goes away so they will pay Dunwoody property tax on the full value of the home. The longer you live in your house, the bigger the subsidy.
I am not suggesting this to fatten the city’s treasury. The amount will be so small that it won’t have an impact on the city’s budget. 
For me this is a fairness issue. Two houses side-by-side, worth the same amount of money and receiving the same city services, should pay the same in property taxes. We shouldn’t have the house on the right subsidize the house on the left simply because one of them is a long time resident and one is a newcomer.
If you do vote NO and the item is defeated, then your city property taxes will increase slightly over time as your property gets more valuable. How much? For the average Dunwoody homeowner we are talking about $12 a year.
It is tempting to vote ourselves a benefit that current residents will enjoy at the expense of future residents who aren’t here yet and can’t vote. It is equally tempting to vote for freezing taxes—and if this were freezing taxes for everyone equally, that would certainly be something to consider. But this is not. 
No one wants to pay more taxes but the right thing to do is to recognize that as the value of our homes increase, so will our share of the city property tax burden. For this reason, I encourage you to vote NO on this ballot measure on November 2nd.
In other city news, we have passed our 2011 budget—without the extra four-person traffic unit. The budget allocates considerably more money for repaving and sidewalks projects and forecasts a $1.3 million surplus. 
We continue to look at alternatives for 911 dispatch service. I expect us to make a decision in November between remaining with DeKalb, starting our own 911 center, or contracting with the Sandy Springs/John’s Creek “ChatComm” 911 center.
Finally, this week we also passed our revised Dunwoody sign ordinance. This ordinance has been in the works for 14 months and it attempts to balance the needs of businesses while improving the esthetics of the city. The most notable provision is a city-wide ban on new internally lit signs. Existing signs will be allowed to stay as long as they are maintained in good condition but future signs must be externally lit.

Monday, October 25, 2010

New Logo

Back on January 12th of this year I brought you the great news that at least $50,000 of taxpayer money would be taken from us and given to an ad agency.  The ad agency was to create a logo, a tag line, and do some branding.  The ad agency lived up to their end of the agreement.  We have a logo,a tag line, and we have added to our brand.  Problem is, many people don't like the logo.  Another problem is our 'brand' may have taken a hit in the mouth.

Let's start with the logo:

Within hours of the revealing of the new logo we had chatter about the similarity to Walmart's logo:

And then came the e-trade comparison:

I'm not a trademark attorney, but I don't see a claim that Wal-Mart or etrade could make against the city.  Sure, the city logo has a Wal-Mart look to it.  But two unrelated enterprises, different tag line, different color tones, different asterisk, etc.  I'd be surprised if Wal-Mart attorneys would challenge Smart people.  I say keep the logo but modify the colors and the tag line.  I think the logo looks better in maroon and gray. The whole 'Smart' People thing comes off real snooty.  I know, we have lots of snooty people.  That's part of our brand.  East Cobb has snooty people, as does Alpharetta.  It's part of the brand.  Some people like snooty.
When you think of Powder Springs or Mableton GA do you think snooty?  I didn't think so.  So let's agree Dunwoody has a bit of snooty to it.  We can go with that - but not in a degrading way.

How about this:

I got the idea of "ATP" from a recent AJC article referring to Dunwoody as At The Perimeter. The design folks can play off that 'T' and change the adjective 'tremendous' to suit their/our needs.

The Chamber folks can use 'A Talented Place'.  The CVB posse can use 'A Tantalizing Place'.  Our anti Government militia can use 'A Totalitarian Place'.  Our 187 banks can claim to be in 'A Trustworthy Place'.  The greenhouse at Brook Run can be 'A Tropical Place'. Lots of words start with 'T' so we can really have endless tag lines.  Of course At The Perimeter could be used for our businesses in the PCID.

Can the same folks running a petition to ban drive-thru fast food start a petition to use the 'ATP' tagline/logo?  All I ask for in return is for VIP bracelets for next year's Dunwoody Music Festival, free membership to The Dunwoody Nature Center, a $40 gift certificate to Cheesecake Factory, a new ordinance banning left turns onto Chamblee Dunwoody Roadout of the Publix parking lot, and I want Chamblee Dunwoody Road/Roberts Rd to be renamed Main Street (from GA 400 down to 285).

Take a minute and go back in time and read my post on this branding from January. Here's the photos to go with that post:

I had a follow-up post in March (see here). And here is another post on branding from April 2nd.  This post is important as it provides a clue to the origins of the current city logo (the one that makes you think of Wal-Mart) created by Sky Design Graphics.  here is part of that April 2nd blog post:

Over on Facebook there is a new post on the Discover Dunwoody page:

Discover Dunwoody, GA The City of Dunwoody is looking for residents in Dunwoody apartment complexes to participate in focus groups next week for the branding project! For more info e-mail or go to

Approximately 67% of those in apartments stay in that apartment for one or two years only, then move elsewhere. So is the branding company going to decide our logo and branding tag lines using opinions of folks here for a year or so?  Are these relevant opinions?  Could be an excellent resource, could be a waste of time for both parties.  I'll leave it to the branding experts to decide.

I know a few long-term apartment dwellers - one I know has lived here for many years.  Not sure if the intent is to include condo folks in the agency's recruitment of apartment folks or if it is their desire to find month-to-month residents.  So, if you live in apartment now (but will most likely be gone next year at this time), please help shape Dunwoody's future with your opinions.  Contact SkyDesignGraphics today to reserve your spot.
It's no secret that many of Dunwoody's apartments are located off of Ashford Dunwoody Road, with many apartment balcony views of .......... Wal-Mart.  And I'm sure our beloved apartment dwellers shop at Wal-Mart, just like many of our homeowners.  So was the inclusion of apartment residents the reason we have a Wal-Mart like logo?  I know what you FarmHousers are thinking - another thing in Dunwoody to blame on apartments.  Crime, overcrowded schools, Northchase House of Nachos (see my review here), cars, MARTA, etc.  But relax Mr. and Mrs. FarmHouser - don't blame our Wal-Mart logo and tag line on apartment folks.  They are Smart, just like you.

The GAP logo was scrapped about 48 hours after its introduction.  Here's an interesting take on the GAP logo issue.  Sound familiar?

I could post another 2000 words on what went wrong with the branding and logo, but I am not being paid by the city to do so.  Someone else sold that snake oil months ago. 

I don't want to post anymore on the logo issue.  Sky and the city are free to use the logo above.  I think the city of Dunwoody does have SMART people.  How about a $5000 contest for the best 'new' logo?  Narrow it down to a top 20, then let's see them all at Light Up Dunwoody.

One final note.  The video used to launch and promote our city was ALL about the PCIDNot one picture of a neighborhood.  No kids playing in the yards.  No brick ranch in a cul-de-sac.  This whole branding effort looks like a fluff piece for the PCID, not a branding effort for us homeowners.  I don't think the tag line and 'branding' put forth by the design group fits Dunwoody.  I know, no one asked me.  I emailed twice trying to get a spot at one of the focus groups.  I tried contacting Sky.  But like you saw on Facebook, they were too worried about getting opinions form people who have most likely moved on to Roswell or Chamblee.  Dunwoody is home to many artists and marketing folks, with lots more talent and experience than I have.  I'm just a sales guy who likes to write and play with Photoshop.  Next time the city needs something done let's ask the SMART people before spending $100,000.