Council approves refreshed city logo

Published 6:01 am Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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The Albert Lea City Council voted 6-1 Monday on a refreshed city logo after additional weeks of consideration and feedback from residents.

Fourth Ward Councilor Sherri Rasmussen was the only councilor to vote against the update.

Rasmussen said though she recognized that not a lot of money was spent on developing the logo, a lot of people’s time went into it.

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“As a member of this community, I want to see us as city employees, as council members, spending our time on really taking forward action on actionable items — things that really will make a difference,” she said.

Rasmussen said she heard from a lot of people both in and outside of her ward about the change. She recognized there were some misconceptions in the community about the cost and the rollout for the updated logo. Instead of updating the logo on all equipment all at once, equipment would only be updated with the logo along its schedule for replacement. The logo would be changed immediately online and on the seal in the Council Chambers.

The former logo was adopted by the city in 1977 and was created by Marv Wangen, a former Albert Lea mayor and councilor, who was a professional graphic artist and owner of an advertising firm.

The question of whether to replace that logo came up as the city considers what to paint on the new downtown water tower.

Rasmussen said she was disappointed that some of the suggestions that were brought up during a public meeting about the logo were never brought back for consideration, and she said she had a difficult time approving something that the council hadn’t seen the final product on.

The logo has evolved in recent weeks, and what was voted on removed the phrase “Lake.Land.Life” that was previously part of the image. While it had initially been lightened in an attempt to give it a warmer feel, the approved logo had some of that saturation brought back in the blue and green. City Manager Ian Rigg said he had adjusted the colors of the logo prior to the meeting in hopes of getting closer to the colors desired.

Final changes would be made by the artist who came up with the idea, and the “Lake.Land.Life” would also be removed at that time. The design still includes a triangle, with the blue representing water and the green representing land, joined with a white curved line, which could represent the interstates or trails.

Instead of having “The city of Albert Lea,” the refreshed logo just includes “Albert Lea” with joining Ls like in Wangen’s original design.

Rasmussen said while she understands the intent of the refreshed logo, she could not vote in favor of it based on her own feelings and the feedback from the people both in and outside of her ward who reached out to her, who posted on Facebook and who wrote letters to the editor. She did not think the change was necessary.

Second Ward Councilor Larry Baker said some of the people he talked to were confused with the proposal and couldn’t see a difference in the new and old logo. He said overall he probably heard 50% in favor of one way with the other 50% in favor of the opposite way.

He referenced the streetscape project downtown and how when the council approved that there were many people who did not want the council to spend the money on the more than $4 million project. Though the council took a lot of heat for that at the time, after the fact they told him it was the right thing to do.

Baker said though marketing is important, it isn’t the driving force in moving the city forward. The driving force instead is what the city and other entities are doing to make people want to come and live here.

First Ward Councilor Rachel Christensen thanked all of the citizens who had reached out by phone or email. She recognized there are pros and cons to every choice.

She said she actually worked with Wangen in the early 1990s on designing a logo for the bank she was with at the time.

“I honestly feel if he were here today, he would be saying, ‘You know this is a marketing tool, it’s not your city image,’” she said. “This is a marketing tool, and it should be updated.”

She emphasized that it was a logo update and not a new logo altogether.

Sixth Ward Councilor Brian Anderson said for every one person he talked to who didn’t like the changes, there was one person who liked the changes and two others who really didn’t care.

He said he also thought it was important to remind people that this was a compromise — the council initially considered a new logo altogether and then decided to move forward refreshing what the city already had.

“I don’t think that’s too far removed from what we’re using now, and I’d be willing to support it,” Anderson said.

City staff wanted to retain some elements of Wangen’s logo to avoid invalidating the logo throughout the community on water towers and on metal work along Fountain Lake Park and downtown, to name a few.

Third Ward Councilor Jason Howland said he liked the colors and the design of Wangen’s design and noted he has always liked the extended L in the words “Albert Lea.”

“This isn’t throwing it out and getting something completely new because they just weren’t good, and what Marv created was good but it’s a little stale, and I think it needs a little bit of a refresh.”

Howland said while he recognized some people were nostalgic in wanting to keep the old logo, he reminded them that if they’re always looking behind them, they’re never going to move forward.

Fifth Ward Councilor Robert Rasmussen said Wangen’s logo, created in 1977, was the same age as him. He also pointed out that sports teams and companies change their image all the time, and this was no different.

“This is just one piece to add to that marketing tool for Albert Lea,” he said. “The citizens are going to be the same.”

Sherri Rasmussen said she recognized the work that had been put into the logo. But she said she does not believe changing the city’s logo is going to attract one person to the community, noting that instead people look at things such as levels of crime, schools in the area and resources for food and entertainment when they consider moving to a community.

It is things like the new comprehensive plan, she said, that are going to drive the community forward.