On January 1, Benton County changed out its historic logo for something new. The rebranding included the new icon and logo, color scheme, designated brand font, and sub-brand logos for each County department.
Benton County Public Information Officer Alyssa Rash says that the County paid $14,900 for the County rebranding. The work was budgeted pre-COVID from the Public Information Fund.
“In fact, the consultant’s work was completed by February 2020, before COVID was in Benton County,” Rash wrote in an email.
Madison Ave. Collective (MAC) in Corvallis was the design firm selected for the project. “They were chosen because it was important to the County that a local firm be used,” Rash wrote.
When asked why the brand was changed, Rash said, “The brand was updated because our previous brand was 30 years old, and many felt that it was [no longer] reflective of the community it serves.”
Jeff Jimerson, the principal and creative director at Madison Ave. Collective, and one of the five people on the creative team for the project, said the County’s parameters and intentions for the design also had a practical aspect.
“The County needed a logo system that was very flexible and easy to use. This was a practical consideration. The previous logo contained many small details and was often difficult to apply,” Jimerson said.
The courthouse had been the center of the County’s visual identity for quite a while, Jimerson said, but their research had not provided any clear answers on whether or not the public wanted it to stay.
“So we ended up developing a wide range of logo concepts and tested them with focus groups. On one end of the spectrum were courthouse-focused logos, and on the other end were logos without any reference to the courthouse,” Jimerson said. “The final selection by the commissioners was a concept somewhere in the middle.”
According to the case study about this project on MAC’s website, the logo was designed with the intention of showing the county’s updated core values in a visual way, including looking forward, being more inviting to diverse people and perspectives, and reflecting some of the natural environment.
“The logo mark utilizes hand-drawn shapes and earthy tones, evoking feelings that are warm and welcoming. Within the rectangular, window-shaped icon, three major landmarks are represented: Mary’s Peak, the County Courthouse, and the Willamette River. And the customized logotype comprises qualities which are both traditional and modern,” Jimerson wrote, quoting from a case study on the MAC website. “All together, the elements of the logo — color, shape, typography, and symbology — communicate a healthy, livable community with a commitment to preserving the natural environment.”
“We’re very excited about our new brand identity,” Rash said.
What Corvallisites Said
So, we asked the people of Corvallis – through Facebook of course – what they thought of the new logo.
Several people liked it. Maxime Desmet thought it was nicer than the old one. Jason Robert Patton thinks it’s “way better!” Rio Smith and Marcie Wolf both liked it, Wolf even noted that it was great a graphic designer got paid. And Elizabeth Wyatt said, “What a pretty and clean refresh!”
Lesa Banks and Curtis Wright both said that they make a living in marketing, and they both loved the new look. Banks sees it as “much more practical to execute for different uses.” While Wright thinks the branding is “spot on!”
Not everyone was positive.
Laura Nash asked why the County spent time and money on it, adding, “I no longer have instant recognition for the county I live in.”
“The old one was beautiful and iconic,” Kelly J. Clark wrote. “This new one looks generic, nothing special.”
Alan Pastre wrote, “Our county public works employees have not had a pay raise in 5 years (no I’m not one) and the commissioners spent their time and our tax dollars on this? How much did the artist receive? How much will it cost to change all the signage, letterhead etc. Seems like we have screwed up priorities in the commissioner’s chambers.”
Jan Huffaker Boggs agreed with Pastre, noting, “Every department will have to get new business cards, letterhead, envelopes, vehicle logos, etc.”
Carole Phillips Dicksa wrote, “Stupid to spend money on this right now.”
Melissa Lambert wrote, “It’s okay, hard to tell the courthouse from the trees. But don’t tell them, they’ll change it again.”
And Ian Hamlin wrote, “Waste of money, it’s boring and bland plus the old one was perfectly fine.”
Christine Mosbaugh, who it turns out is the Population Health and Engagement Manager at Community Health Centers of Benton and Linn Counties, noted that we should “consider that it hadn’t been updated in 30+years!” Adding, “The amount of money to do this wasn’t used instead of raises [and] improvements…” Mosbaugh continued on, saying that office supplies with the older logo would not simply be thrown away, but replaced as needed.
By: Hannah Ramsey