Makeovers aren't easy, as the folks behind makingcolorado.com, the state's rebranding project that's about to unveil Colorado's new look, could tell you. And no doubt will, after that brand is revealed on August 29. Colorado Springs knows just how tough the process can be; when the result of its seven-month, $111,000 campaign to create a new logo was revealed in late 2011, the symbol was met with such derision that the city went back to the drawing board a day later, hiring a local design firm to come up with a better mark to go with the still godawful new "Live It Up" slogan. Fort Collins had problems when it set out to replace its thirty-year-old symbol, too; five years later, it still has a white paper on its website describing the logic of the new logo.
But despite all these cautionary tales, little Littleton, the 40,000-person-plus town that got its start as a farming burg and grew into a suburb, started thinking about a new logo to go with its new city manager, Michael Penny. "It's not really a rebranding, because we didn't have a brand," explains Littleton spokeswoman Kelli Narde. "What we had in the past was not really a logo, just a typeface; there was no image that went with it."
Rather than go with Nashville-based North Star, the pricey image-making firm that brands itself as "the community and city branding specialist," Littleton used Denver-based Philosophy Communications, which conducted "intercepts" with residents and met with officials and business owners alike to get a feel for what kind of brand would best represent Littleton. And the result of this $46,000 process wasn't just a new logo, but a new tag line: "Anything but Little."
Denver Public Schools
But Littleton isn't making a big deal about rolling out its new brand. Earlier this month, it posted a "brand book" of rules for how to use the logo — the better to build on the "strong Littleton legacy" — on the city's website, which is already wearing the new look. But keeping budget issues in mind, the brand is "going to be rolled out very gradually," says Narde. "As things need to be replaced, they will be replaced. We are not going to go out and redo every vehicle."
In fact, right now the logo and the "Anything but Little" tag line can only be found on a total of four vehicles, but that's enough to give residents who spot the new look a start — a "little" start: One of them compares the stylized "L" to a burning skyscraper with flames rolling off the bottom; another calls it the "smoking doobie."
It's anything but dull.
Hot topic: What do you get when you add a $466 million bond issue to eighteen consecutive days of ninety-degree-plus heat, multiply the sum by 79,000 Denver Public Schools students, and then subtract two years and a few degrees? The answer is the start of a school year without much controversy over air conditioners and swamp coolers.
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The majority of DPS students returned to their seats this week, and probably without burning their butts too badly on those seats: Temps are predicted to be in the high 80s.
That wasn't the case in late 2011 and early 2012, when a group of parents and teachers successfully lobbied the district to push back the start of upcoming school years by a week in order to avoid mid-August classrooms where it was simply Too Damn Hot to Learn (as the group called itself). The result was a start date of August 27 in 2012 and August 26 this year — as well as $24.5 million in new "air-cooling solutions," which range from air conditioners to swamp coolers to better ventilation and circulation.
And the change seems to have worked — that, and the weather. "It has cooled down. Pun intended," says DPS spokesman Mike Vaughn.
While classroom temperatures have come up in isolated cases, "it hasn't been a large area of concern recently," he adds. "Moving the start date back seems to have reduced the chances of having an extremely hot day during the first week of school."