|Music on the Square, 2012|
I’d like to offer my opinion and perspective on the new Town of Jonesborough Logo. My husband and I started coming to Storytelling in 2001. We fell in love with both the festival and the town so much that we moved here 7 months ago. I believe that the Logo Committee’s “concession and compromise” described in the February 19th edition of the H&T is laudable, but it also short-changes the town by settling for a less than adequate design. This is both an emotional and a business decision that will have an impact for years to come.
Bill Bledsoe’s design was spot-on. Here’s why: The artwork and font is quintessential Jonesborough. It captures the history, the whimsy and the folksiness of the town without being cutesy or cloying. Bledsoe has been capturing the magic of this town for years with his posters, ornaments and the like. The motto, “Small Town, Big Story” depicts the spirit of the town without creating a self-limiting label. It draws one in. It makes one ask, “Really? What story?” Further, “Small Town” denotes Jonesborough Days Parade, Contra Dancing, Wild Game Dinners, Christmas Tree Lightings, Cash Mobs, Friends of the Library Bocce Tournaments, The Repertory Theater, Music on the Square, The Yarn Exchange and Kiwanis Club Spaghetti Dinners. All are things that we love about life in a small town. “Big Story” denotes the founding of the State of Franklin, Boone and Crockett, Jackson and Johnson, Abolitionist Newletters, the Underground Railroad and of course, the National Storytelling Festival and Jonesborough’s own story, “I Am Home”.
The Hillhouse design, on the other hand, captures almost nothing about the spirit of the town. It has no nuance, no ‘soul’. Parts of it may be “accurate,” but it’s cold. The font is fussy (which Jonesborough isn’t) the flame is obscure, and the logo is at once arrogant, self-limiting and a bit desperate. It almost screams “World’s Biggest Ball of Twine”. It makes Jonesborough sound like a one trick pony. The flame is symbolic of storytelling. It’s also symbolic of the Tomb of the Unknowns, the Methodist Church and the Olympics. The slogan puts Jonesborough in a box. It says “that’s all this town has to offer” and that’s just not true. If you have to explain why the flame is relevant, or that the arts or B&Bs each tell a story, you’ve missed the mark. If you define the town so literally by Storytelling, you’ve limited your potential pool of visitors. Not everyone cares about storytelling, or even knows what it is. Eyes have glazed over for years when we try to explain to friends why we’d willingly drive for 13 hours to sit in a folding chair in a circus tent for three days. Let’s face it, even some long-time residents loathe storytelling and wish it wasn’t here. If all I knew about Jonesborough was “Storytelling” and I didn’t have an open mind, I’d pass it by for something that didn’t sound so one-dimensional.
I’d like to provide an example of a small town that has found a way to use their logo to draw people in without restricting itself to one particular interest or focus. Black Mountain, North Carolina has a wonderful logo of a wooden rocking chair a-la The Cracker Barrel and the motto “America’s Front Porch.” It makes you want to come and sit on their porch a while, and see what the town has to offer. It doesn’t say “Artsy town outside of Asheville” It invites you to come and discover that for yourself.
A logo is a significant monetary investment for this town. It’s going on marketing materials, promotional items, signage and the like. It needs to be intriguing, interesting and capture the spirit of the town. No element of a logo should have to be explained. You’ve lost an opportunity that you’ll likely never get back if you have to sit and explain it all to a potential visitor. A logo is akin to a wonderfully balanced meal at a great restaurant. The flavors are balanced, they marry, they mingle and make you want more. Bledsoe’s design, as-is, has the right balance. It’s WHO WE ARE. Hillhouse’s design is an all-you-can-eat buffet where you end up with sweet potato casserole, sushi, crème brulee and pickles on your plate. Jonesborough deserves better. I’d like for the committee to reconsider using the elements in Hillhouse’s design and use Bledsoe’s. There is no shame in it. It’s a business decision and an emotional one. Just like a romantic relationship, sometimes you have to have one that doesn’t work and isn’t what you want, to help you find what does work and IS what you want. Sometimes in business you have to realize that you have been going down the wrong path and need to change before you’ve lost too much to go back.
|farm to table dinner, Aug 2012|