TO: Mayor and Town Council
Council Member Mark Kleinschmidt, Chair
Mayor pro tem Edith Wiggins
Council Member Bill Strom
Council Member Dorothy Verkerk
SUBJECT: Resolution to Update Town Seal
DATE: April 11, 2005
The Committee on Council Communications has reviewed conceptual designs for an update of the Town seal and has selected a more graphic representation to better convey the Town’s identity to the community. The goal is to select an updated logo for immediate use on business cards and office supplies in time for use after the renaming of Airport Road to take effect on May 8, 2005. The Committee recommends adoption of the attached updated seal design.
Messages gain power from consistency and repetition. It has become difficult to adapt the seal to a wide variety of communications with the public, from newspaper advertisements to street signs and web pages, because of its weak graphic representation. A weak and inconsistent visual identity fails to graphically connect services rendered to the Town. The Town needs an improved visual identity, along with a well-defined system of use.
The Committee on Council Communications has reviewed design concepts from graphic designer Barbara Wiedemann, a visiting design instructor for the UNC School of Journalism and Communication. Wiedemann is the former head graphic designer for the NC Museum of Art and has done design, production and print coordination for projects of The Pew Charitable Trusts, NC State University Gallery of Art and Design and the NC Museum of History. She has a master’s degree with distinguished scholarly achievement from the NC State University School of Design.
Ms. Wiedemann presented numerous iterations of Athena for a revised seal. The Committee expressed its preference for a graphic update that would retain the current depiction of a standing mythical figure with trees and buildings in the background. The letter-forms are designed for clear visibility and ease of reading, even when the logo must appear small.
Challenges presented by the Town Seal
The Town seal apparently was created in the 1930s and was updated in 1989 with some changes. Athena’s spear and helmet were removed, the founding dates of the University of North Carolina and Town of Chapel Hill were added, and a series of horizontal lines were added.
From a graphic standpoint, the seal does not work well to identify the Town because the lettering is not bold and the words do not indicate “Town of Chapel Hill.” Other distractions are a series of lines that run through the circle and the founding dates of the University and Town. Finally, two seals currently in use need to be made consistent. In official documents, a single-colored seal shows the date 1819 (founding of the Town), as well as 1795 (founding of UNC). A second, multi-colored seal shows a different date of 1851, the year the Town was chartered.
About Athena, the Protector of Cities
Although there are some graphic challenges presented by the current seal, it was considered important to retain the visual identifier of Chapel Hill for more than 70 years. Athena carries rich symbolism that seems entirely appropriate for our community. Commonly considered the mythical goddess of wisdom, she presides over intellectual activity. The logo depicts the goddess Athena, who is recognized as the protector of cities. More than any other of the Greek goddesses, Athena remains a symbol of civilization, useful knowledge, noble reasoning, logic and wisdom.
The Updated Seal and Next Steps
An updated seal will serve as the Town logo, a graphic identifier that distinguishes the Town from other entities. The logo is a simple visual mark that appears on printed materials (including stationery, business cards, fliers, brochures and banners), specialty items, uniforms, vehicles, equipment and facility signage.
The Goals of the Seal Update are the following:
- Enhance design flexibility, simplification and clarity.
- Retain the image of Athena.
- Retain the circle or seal.
- Add the words: “Town of Chapel Hill.”
- Complete work by early May 2005.
A Second Phase of this Project would include:
- Produce a color version of the seal.
- Unify the graphic identity for the Town.
- Discontinue the use of the flag as a secondary logo.
- Develop a style guide to show how the updated seal can be used with department titles, and to ensure the consistent use of graphic identity through print, Web, uniforms, etc.
- Maintain graphic consistency across all Town communications to foster a sense of familiarity and confidence with the public.
The Committee recommends adoption of the attached resolution, which would accept the revised seal. We anticipate phasing out the seal emblems which are in use now, and gradually replacing them with the new seal when a replacement is needed.
WHEREAS, the Town seal serves as a graphic identifier for the Town; and
WHEREAS, the current seal has become difficult to adapt to a wide variety of communications with the public, from newspaper advertisements to street signs and web pages, because of its weak graphic representation; and
WHEREAS, the updated seal design enhances design flexibility, simplification and clarity; and
WHEREAS, the seal will serve as the Town logo, a graphic identifier that distinguishes the Town from other entities; and
WHEREAS, the seal appears on printed materials (including stationery, business cards, fliers, brochures and banners), specialty items, uniforms, vehicles equipment and facility signage;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the Town of Chapel Hill that the Council accepts the recommendation of the Council Communications Committee to update the Town seal.
This the 11th day of April, 2005.