The District of Sechelt may be the trademark holder and administrator of Sechelt’s new community brand, but the municipality won’t be adopting it for its own use – at least for now.
After being presented with the new “S” logo and the associated branding strategy on Sept. 18, council deferred a vote on whether to use a version of the “S” as part of a new District of Sechelt logo, replacing the existing logo on things such as signs, trucks, and letterhead.
During her presentation on options for the district’s use of the “S” logo and community brand, communications manager Julie Rogers acknowledged the negative response from some in the community.
She compared it to what happened on Bowen Island in 2016, when the municipality backed a similar branding effort that became the cornerstone of Tourism Bowen Island’s ad campaigns.
Bowen uses four animal logos and tongue-in-cheek taglines like “Tell your friends it’s awful here” and “Proudly resisting change since 1874.”
Marketing and communications professionals loved it. Public reaction was less enthusiastic.
Rogers said when she talked to officials on Bowen Island as part of work to finalize the Sechelt brand, one of them told her, “Oh. Good luck to you. It was awful. We put this out there and so many people in the community on Facebook hated it.”
Rogers went on to say that at a recent session she attended with other local government officials they told her how much they loved the Bowen brand.
In her written report to council, Rogers said: “The community of Sechelt has not had a brand until now. As the community has developed a brand to be used in business, tourism and in the non-profit sector, it is a perfect time for the district to join that brand to build a more cohesive look for Sechelt.”
Rogers told council, “The community brand really speaks to who we are and I’d really like to use that.”
Coun. Alton Toth, who was very enthusiastic about the logo and branding when they were introduced to council Sept. 18, said he’s already applied to license the brand for his business but doesn’t see it as a good fit for the municipality and might risk confusion.
“Personally, for the corporation of the District of Sechelt, I like our current logo. I’m going to vote against this,” he said.
Coun. Brenda Rowe said she was on the fence. “I’m torn, because I like the ‘bacon and eggs’ logo, but if this is going to be Sechelt’s community brand it doesn’t make any sense to me, in the logical part of my brain, for the District of Sechelt not to lead the way and adopt it.”
“I like our ‘bacon and eggs’ as Brenda [Rowe] calls it, for our District of Sechelt [logo],” Coun. Janice Kuester said. “I don’t think we need to go through changing everything.”
Coun. Matt McLean raised the idea of using the current district logo but adopting the other aspects of the branding, saying it would be a “huge shame” not to be able to use the tagline “Heart of the Sunshine Coast.”
“There is tremendous value in having a strong brand and the brand that has been developed through this process is a good one,” he said.
Rogers, though, recommended against that, saying it would cause confusion. “You’re combining two different brands, like putting the Nike ‘Just do it’ tagline on your Heinz ketchup,” she said.
In the end a motion to adopt the “S” logo and community brand for district use was defeated on a tie vote with Toth, Kuester and Coun. Tom Lamb opposed.
The vote does not affect the community brand rollout. The district will continue to hold the trademark, once it’s granted, and set the rules for usage and licensing agreements.
After the motion was defeated, McLean put forward a follow-up motion asking staff to work with the designer of the “S” logo and come back with new options that might work with the brand strategy but be unique to the District of Sechelt. McLean’s motion passed with only Kuester opposed.
Coun. Eric Scott was absent from the meeting, which could open the door for Mayor Darnelda Siegers to bring the matter back for reconsideration by the full council within 30 days.