Monday, September 24, 2007

London Public Library logo: stolen or humanist plot?

The following article was submitted to the London Fog by reader "BL".

The London Public Library has a fancy, new logo. Only thing is, taxpayer dollars seem to have purchased a used insignia.

An official library press release announcing the new logo, a blue human figure leaping on a blue swirl backdrop, celebrates it as a "dynamic customer-focused logo." Oddly, this graphic looks almost identical to the "red figure" found at the Garfield County Public Library in Colorado — swap colours, a little cropping and add a 15-minute Photoshop swirl and voilà!

According to the press release, Lindsay Sage, the director of marketing and development, states that a private firm, Velocity Studio & Associates, was hired to create the logo. The cost to the library and consequently to the citizenry was not disclosed, except to say that it was part of "a fiscally-responsible long-term plan" to re-brand the system. But why does a public system with no competition need to brand itself in the first place, and why is it calling patrons "customers"?

The press release also boasts of Velocity's international clients such as AOL Time-Warner and GM — so it is perplexing that a firm with such a reputation should produce such a retro-fitted facsimile. Even if the Garfield County Library acceded to the "borrowing" of its logo, it would seem to be a pretty poor return on a public investment, raising the question: What did the LPL pay for exactly and how much was it? And why choose this one? The press release is silent about the backroom specifics of the issue, but Sage clearly states,
"The new brand was chosen based on extensive internal and external consultation. […] External signage will be replaced over a five year
By her own admission, consultation was extensive and leadership was informed throughout the process. The press release skirts the issue with PR-speak.

To compound the peculiarity of the press release, Sage frequently repeats how this new logo brings a modern "human" dimension to the library brand. Both the original Garfield and LPL copy logos appear to be modeled after the American Humanist Society's logo.

The design similarity is unmistakable: the LPL's is even blue, albeit some shades lighter.

Sage's repeated use of "human" language suggests that the LPL leadership is aware of the connotation and even the connection between this far-left, anti-religious organization and the logos in question. She seems to be unusually interested in revealing how this logo reflects the library's involvement in social engineering in the London community:
"London Public Library has unveiled a new brand focused on the individual Library experience and on the Library's role a destination in the community, central to the London's social, cultural and economic development."
Readers will note that Sage holds a PR certificate from Fanshawe College and was miraculously whisked into a job only 2 weeks after graduation in 2002 by techalliance, her husband's tech firm — which is also extensively involved in London decision-making. She has since been promoted to various high-profile positions including as a director of the Creative Cities Task Force — and she's a director of Fanshawe's Alumni Association. Well done, for a community college grad. See Fanshawe's Alumni Board for her unbelievable CV.

So, get ready denizens of sleepy hollow: things are about to get a whole lot redder, even as they get a whole lot bluer and swirly. Whee!


Anonymous said...

Not to burst your balloons or anything, but techalliance is an industry association (see for London's nearly non-existant technology sector.

Ms Sage's husband works at marketing.

Speaking of the library, their recent hullaballoo over 'filtering' is the type of thing London Fog usually wades in on. You might even find common ground with arch-nemesis Sam Trosow over this one...

Anonymous said...

Seems that techalliance was one of the spearheads of the Emerging Leaders Initiative nonsense, run by Jeff Sage and wife: prolly where the author got tripped-up. A well noted technicality, but honestly, it doesn’t invalidate the piece. But you're right. The author should have made the distinction: but hey, you'd go to a dizzy death keeping up with all the nepotism in the forest-of-death-city.

knitty_kat said...

For a "service" that has some locations closed 2 days a week, you would think they would have priorities other than "re-branding".