By Judy West
Branding seems to be the new buzzword at the University City District (www.ucityphila.org), which rolled out a new marketing plan and a shiny new logo over the summer months.
Since the special services district began life in 1997 it has sported a distinctive circular emblem with a ring of sunshine yellow surrounding a green core. A blue squiggle in the middle was intended, says UCD marketing director Lori Klein Brennan, to represent a tree. “But it wasn’t identifiable, that was one of the problems. It also looked like a cloud.” Another problem with the logo, according to Brennan, was its “municipal look,” which suggested a direct connection with city government that didn’t exist.
To establish a separate identity, UCD looked to consulting firm Kanter International, which also worked with them on a broader strategic marketing plan. The new logo is sleek and streamlined, a sly play on the letters U, C and D. “We were looking for a logo that was contemporary, that was unique, and something that would make the viewer have to stop and think about its meaning. We think it speaks to the intellectual side of University City as well as its artful side.”
As with the old logo, though, different people see different things. The feedback so far? “Some look at the graphic and see the Schuylkill River. Others see cobblestones. Some see a bridge. And of course they see the letters,” says Brennan.
Along with the new logo comes a new marketing tagline: “Left of Center.” Kanter came up with that, too, though initially the slogan, which will appear on mugs, T-shirts and marketing materials, was “Left of Center City.” Says Brennan, “It took us 10 seconds to decide that we liked it but didn’t want to include ‘City.’ We wanted a tagline that could mean multiple things. ‘Left of Center City’ would have conveyed just one idea. ‘Left of Center’ can convey many things. Different. Diverse. Funky. We wanted to leave it open ended.”
In this election year, of course, using the word “left” carries its own freight. “That was not our intention,” counters Brennan. “In no way is it meant to be that way. We wouldn’t be able to speak as a political voice like that for University City.”
Originally published on September 9, 2004