Recently, the city of College Place, Washington, published a survey asking citizens to cast their vote between two proposed logos for the city or to submit their own attempt. So, of course, I had to throw my hat in the ring!
I had some concerns about the two logos already submitted. They both used multiple colors which can be problematic because of the need for the logo to be used on a variety of materials. For example, a multi-colored logo reproduced on a shirt would be expensive. And when the logo is inevitably reproduced in a black and white environment, it can loose some of its recognizability.
I began with some research. What is iconic about College Place? What image could serve to represent the city? To answer these questions, I did some quick recon. College Place is a small town so I drove up and down the main street (College Ave.) with my eyes open for anything that jumped out as unique to the city. As I drove I asked Siri to open a voice memo and I made verbal notes as I drove. (Sometimes Siri does exactly what you want on the first try. This was not one of those times.) This is the list I made:
- Andy’s market
- Water tower
- Light pole banners (a recent addition to the city)
- Walla Walla Sweet Onions
- Walla Walla University (specifically the ad building/front campus)
- Rogers bakery
It’s a short street, so it was a fairly short list. I quickly crossed off the two businesses and the university. While they are unique to CP it felt strange to be “advertising” for a specific entity in the official city logo. The light poles and banners are a new addition to the main street and they look fabulous, but they aren’t necessarily different than the light poles and banners you would find in any other down town. Right now they are novel because they are newly installed, but in a few years, having them in the city logo would be meaningless. I also decided against the onions, because while they are special to the area, they carry the name of the neighboring town. I thought that might be too confusing or overshadowing. That left me with the water tower. Because this was included in both of the other proposed logos, I took that as a sign that I wasn’t the only one who found it to be a good representative symbol of the town, and I started sketching.
I decided early on that I liked the image of the water tower against the Blue Mountains and rolling fields of wheat—something we have an abundance of in this area. (You’ll notice in the sketches, I had CP established in 1860. That is not the case. The town was incorporated in 1946 but I hadn’t done that research yet. I know 1860 wasn’t accurate but it was the placeholder I was working with).
Throughout this project I had difficulty making the water tower not look like a spaceship.
Once I had sketched out what was in my head, I took the project digital. These were some of my initial concepts.
When I had pretty well determined my direction I looked up the correct date to include in the logo and realized that Martin Field, to the west of town, was an air training base during World War II. Because of this, I had the idea to include an airplane in the logo as a nod to the city's history. My sister also suggested that I incorporate symbolism referencing the native American tribes who lived here when the area was settled by Marcus and Narcissia Whitman. (Marcus and a memorial to the Whitman family is prominently featured on the current city logo.) As a result of that suggestion, I added a horse, to represent the skilled horsemanship of the Cayuse indians.
While I still really like the idea of including the symbols, I decided that the lines would be too small and cause the logo to feel cluttered when used in a smaller size (like on a business card or letterhead).
Before submitting the logo, I changed the typeface to Adobe Caslon Pro to meld the history of College Place and official nature of the city logo with the contemporary look of the clean, simple, line art. I also added texture to the rolling hills to give the image some more depth and visual interest. This is the final logo I submitted along with some mockups to help visualize what the application of this logo could look like. (To make the mockups, I used placeit.net, a super handy tool for quick mockups. You can pay for high-res files, but you can also get these small ones for free!)
All-in-all, I’m pleased with this project. It took about a week working on it on the side here and there from initial sketching to final submission. It would have been helpful to have had a brief from the city about what they were looking for, what aspects were important to them, as well as examples of how the logo is currently used, and the reason why they are looking to replace the currently logo.
Now we wait to see what the response is. Regardless of the outcome, this was a fun side project.