To be fair, citizens of the internet are not generally known for using politeness behind the keyboard, so re-branding anything is a task that can bring haters out of hibernation.
But if 160 (and counting) comments on an Atlanta Journal-Constitution Facebook page are any indication, the online crowd really doesn’t like the front-runner for Gwinnett County’s new logo and slogan.
The colorful overlapping shapes of the logo revealed Tuesday look like a knockoff of the logo for Internet browser Google Chrome, they said. The cursive font used for the slogan — “vibrantly connected” — is hard to read, they said. Why can’t we just bring back the water towers, they said.
I hope it was free, they said.
“Gwinnett — We Could Do Better,” one man, Marcus Bennett, wrote on the AJC’s Gwinnett County News Now page, offering both a critique and his own slogan suggestion.
The logo, slogan and other re-branding efforts — which are not final, could be tweaked and still must be voted on by the county’s Board of Commissioners — in fact cost about $123,000, according to a contract approved by the board in February. And not everyone hates them.
After representatives from architecture and design firm Perkins+Will presented their recommended logo to the commission during a Tuesday afternoon briefing, Chairman Charlotte Nash said she liked it. District 4 Commissioner John Heard suggested a bolder font but said he was “excited about the new image.”
Other commissioners appeared to approve as well.
The image and slogan, Perkins+Will’s Keith Curtis said, are meant to symbolize Gwinnett’s diversity and unity.
“It’s a very dynamic brand identity,” Curtis said. “There’s lots of legs to what we have here.”
Gwinnett is indeed one of the most diverse communities in Georgia and the entire Southeast, with more non-white residents than white ones among its population of 900,000-plus. Lately, though, the county hasn’t seemed very harmonious.
And while the county’s rebranding initiative predates high-profile issues of the last year-plus, the timing doesn’t hurt. Some, including Nash, have said that now could be the right time to re-emphasize that such diversity is a strength.
In January, county Commissioner Tommy Hunter sparked backlash — and an ethics investigation — after calling civil rights icon John Lewis a “racist pig” on Facebook. Three months later, two white Gwinnett County police officers were fired and arrested after cellphone video showed them assaulting a black motorist during a traffic stop. More recently, a magistrate court judge resigned after comparing Confederate monument protesters to terrorists.
A federal voting rights lawsuit filed in August 2016 argues that Gwinnett’s commission and school board districts are drawn to thwart the influence of minority voters. The suit is still working its way through the legal system.
Officials believe there are plenty of economic reasons to rebrand, too.
“The current brand was implemented somewhere in the mid- to late-80s and it doesn’t really represent Gwinnett County today,” said county communications director Joe Sorenson, who has helped spearhead the project. Gwinnett’s current county seal features cotton bales and a scroll and quill that reference its namesake, Declaration of Independence signer Button Gwinnett.
“Our economic development people have struggled to get that brand, as they’re traveling around the country and around the world, to show what Gwinnett is really made of,” Sorenson said.
Nick Masino, the chief economic development officer for Partnership Gwinnett, is rarely shy about speaking his mind. And he said he was “pumped” about what Perkins+Will came up with.
“The newly proposed logo is vibrant and modern and it will project the new Gwinnett,” Masino said. “I’m a fan of the new direction.”
Sorenson is, too. He hopes to present a resolution for the board to vote on sometime in October, and said the logo would be “completely unique to local governments.”
Just don’t ask the internet if that’s a good thing or a bad one.
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