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The Verdict is in - Get a New Logo and Slogan!

The E-FORUM Slogans and Logos - Time for a Change?, July 6, 2008, drew a huge response, examples of which are copied below – all without names except for the first, which came from Councilmember Jim Rogers and identified him as the author at his request.


It was a surprise to me that Richmonders overwhelmingly rejected both the existing logo and slogan, although suggestions for replacements were mixed. Clearly, neither resonates with the populace – a serious problem.


One reader pointed out that the centennial logo looked suspiciously like that of Days Inn.


 A clarifications about an apparent misunderstanding  -- I never intended that the Rosie the Riveter image be adopted by the City – only the words “We Can Do It,” which are gender, ethnicity and race neutral.


Click here to see what I am thinking about for my new City of Richmond business card.



  • A generation ago, our parent's generation, aptly named "The Greatest Generation", faced a horrifying challenge to life as we know it. They literally saved the world with soldiers like my Dad,  Lt. K.T. Rogers,  who won a Silver Star carrying his wounded   troops off of a hill in Germany under withering artillery fire, and Rosies like my Mom, Jane Rogers, whose  different type of homefront heroism made it  possible. Richmond, faced with an unprecedented challenge of bringing together an unprecedented war production machine by bringing together people of different races and genders, had a simple motto: "We can do it."  And Richmond did it.  Now, our generation is faced with a different horrifying threat to life as we know it. Global warming, coupled with vehicle caused particulate pollution that is taking about  a year off of the life of people living in  urban areas with heavy vehicle congestion, is our new challenge. As we face the similar challenge of leading the way to an unprecedented green production machine, of turning Richmond into "Solar Valley" , and showing how we can include everyone in this effort by including by including people of all races and economic classes, we should have a simple motto: "We can do it. Again." As for the logo...  It was picked hurriedly from very few entrants in a contest.  I'd go for a re-consideration of it. (Councilmember Jim Rogers)


  • Am I the only one that likes our logo?  It's a flame...  right?  I think that's a nice message.


  • Glad to see that you're revisiting this topic again Tom. It's very important to focus on images with staying power. And the Rosie/WWII theme is certainly something that meets that criteria. But it is good to know that the city didn't spend any money on that weird bird, sailing ship logo idea. But it illustrates how a very bad idea can linger long past sickness and death. But when you compare the Centennial logo to excellent graphic design standards it also looks rather uninspiring. This is puzzling since Richmond has used good design at Marina Bay logo designed by Michael Vanderbyl http://www.vanderbyl.com/ If you do consider using the logo theme "We Can Do It!"  please consider revising it. Examples: "We Can Do It - Again!" "We Can Do It - Better!" and investing in a great local design team, someone the caliber of Michael Schwab, Michael Vanderbyl, Martin French, etc. to really do justice to Rosie's great theme. I am all for preserving the past and even prior to 1905. A while back I suggested to Donna Graves that the Rosie... Trust and Museum get together and create some truly emblematic designs that market the brands, and as examples such as Schwabs work with Golden Gate NRA, http://www.michaelschwab.com/ or another notable national designer illustrator http://www.martinfrench.com/ Nostagia may have a place in a logo for the city building on history, but it should be done very well and mindful that for good or bad we are moving into and past a Youtube, Myspace, 21st Century information age society. Will our logo be viable if the city the medium is visible from futuristic media. Multiple images such as water, hills, ships, trains, buildings might work if they are recognizable national landmarks such as the lighthouse. Take Schwabs campaign for Amtrak. Something too busy can be nice but hard to make pop. What good is living in one of the most picturesque places in the Bay Area when all we see is uninspiring and bland?  The below examples except the star are posters but the artists do logo and great art direction work. Tom, I am a Richmond resident since 2004. I moved to Richmond anticipating opening a business in the city. But many in my creative community have observed that Richmond rarely does what is so obvious to the kind of people it is trying to attract. It must upgrade it's image with a clear vision, muchlike the great men and women who came before. It's depressing when the city has so much potential like you often point out, but settles for far less. It's not enough to just reuse the Rosie... "We Can Do It!" It's a great theme. You have to rethink it and do like Henry J Kaiser suggested, "THINK BIG!" You might also consider exploring the resources at AIGA, American Institute Graphic Artists, a professional graphic design association http://www.aiga.org.
    Good luck with getting this project the attention it deserves.
  • i really like the "we can do it" slogan, but without the old image of the factory worker woman, who seems to be giving a "fuck you" more than a call to arms...maybe an image of suitably multicultural folks with that line - "we can do it" - within a simple design?


  • Bravo for pursuing the topic!  You both make excellent points as does the amusing article by Peter Hartlaub. I'd only add that a tag or slogan is merely a marketing tool subject to the whims of fad and changing attitudes, where as a good logo is enduring and meaningful beyond its time. I agree that Richmond needs a refreshing change and deserves a symbol that is classic, spirited, and unique to Richmond.  It also deserves something better than clipart imagery that could be Any Town, USA. Richmond can do better . . . hopefully with its eyes wide open about implementation and in a way that honors both community input and artistic creativity. Thanks for opening the dialogue.


  • I totally agree with you. The current logo is too ambiguous and I am not sure what it is saying. (Especially in terms of the graphics.) I vote for the one you are using on your card from 1905. I really like that one.


  • Si! se puede !!
  • I concur 100% about the need for a new logo and slogan.
  • The current logo is stupider than the slogan (although they are both pretty dumb) and, like you, I also prefer the orginal logo over the bird. However, I do not think "We Can Do It" is a good alternative slogan.  I like "Richmond... The Jewel of the Bay"- When I speak of the town I live in that's what I call it... and I think this moniker has better marketing potential, then the one you suggest. While it's true everyone knows "We Can Do It" I think most people associated that with a time gone by... a time when war was considered by most to be righteous and patriot. This is not the case in today's climate. Even though I understand your rationale about facing our current challenges, it would be pretty hard to separate that slogan from its World War II roots. Besides when our Economic Development people are out at the National Conference of Shopping Center's what does "We Can Do It" convey to potential retailers??? To me "We Can Do It" sound too much like "We Can Overcome" both of which allude to the fact that "We Got Problems". If I were a major retailer I'd look at that along side the demographics and think... "Yes you can do it, and when it’s done- give me a call!" Whereas "The Jewel of the Bay" says - we have a high opinion of yourselves, we are not victims, we got it going on, we have lots to offer and if you're coming to the Bay-for business, pleasure, or to live Richmond is the Place you wanna be! Just one opinion... maybe we should hold a contest- and have a blue ribbon committee select the winner. Or maybe you can just steal my idea (with my permission) and run with it.


  • Like you, I’m pretty sick of Richmond’s logo. Since I sometimes need to put the blob on websites (a low-resolution medium), I’m as familiar with its technical  shortcomings (e.g., “City of” turns into ants; the weight of the ambiguous blue shape dominates the page) as its lack of aesthetic appeal. The positive psychological effect on our residents of seeing a fresh and contemporary logo would, in my opinion, be immeasurable. (I worked as a contractor at PG&E about 2 decades ago when the company launched its new logo. I did a video magazine story about the launch. The new graphic look induced company-wide pride and renewed interest.)  But as you know, developing graphic identity standards is not cheap. Rather than throwing the issue out to the community, why not propose that the City prepare an RFP for graphics development? As you can well imagine, the cost of developing logo and signage standards ($10-15K?) would be rather small compared to costs for creating signage for the trucks, buildings, web site, stationery, business cards and countless other places where the weird bird-arrow blob rears its ugly head. But in my opinion, it must be done sometime. Putting it on the table now, exploring costs and implications, means the day when we finally can see a city symbol we can admire will be that much closer.
  • Rather than use an old city logo, I think the city should sponsor a contest for Richmond residents....bring out the artists and make a big deal of it...post them at the Richmond Art Center or the Richmond Museum and let the residents weigh in. Make it into a BIG EVENT. Considering it's been so long, that seems only fitting. Maybe it can be tied to another Festival so that it's easy for people to join in and see the contestants. You probably heard from a lot of people on this one, huh? Thanks as always for your commitment to making Richmond a better place!


  • Way past time for a change.  I like the Centennial one – maybe replace the sun rays with stylized sails and the word ‘centennial’ with ‘Port City’ since our Port is worthy of notice.  I have always wondered about ‘Pride and Purpose’,   hmmm. What purpose?  W have definitely proven that  ‘We can do it’.


  • Great idea!!!


  •  I’m with you…the old flying seagull logo needs to be grounded, along with the “City of Pride and Purpose”.  I’d like to see the original 1905 logo with “We Can Do It” on the bottom band replacing the “August 7th 1905” writing.  Thanks for the E-Forum, it really helps keeping me in tune with the latest City events….


  • "City OF Pride and Purpose" has always seemed to me to be syntactically strange, as if written by a non-English speaker.  Please please get rid of it!  "We can do it" is  somewhat better. How about a logo featuring Donna Powers in a champagne glass?


  • Love the 1905 Logo!!!!  Please use it!!!! 


  • How about "we did it before and we can do it again"


  • Yes, it's time for a change! LOVE the idea of using the Rosie the Riveter slogan!  The older image might work well too... the current one (red/blue arrow or whatever)  is looking dated and the pride/purpose slogan makes me chuckle whenever I actually stop to pay attention to it!  Thanks for your work on this!  It seems worthwhile w/ so much going on in our city.


  • What I have been told about the City log is that the white part inside of the blue is a sailboat and that the blue represents the water. This has been the story told to city workers for a number of years. You are correct about this logo, it is very confusing and none seems to understand it. YES its time for a change.


  • The current logo has a sinister quality to my eyes: the white "arrow" is a cardinal-type bird, behind which (the large shadow) is a predator bird, looming. It's more of a Rorschach test than a representation of Richmond. As opposed to Berkeley's gorgeous Chagall image (the four profiles), or even El Cerrito's new simple line drawing of hill & tree. Let's lose it - great idea! The 1905 seal works for me; it's timeless, elegant, ready to go. I've often found myself embarrassed and perplexed by "Pride and Purpose" as I looked around at garbage, blight, & graffiti. "We Can Do It" is a nod to recent triumphs large and small - the city's fiscal  resurgence, the expanding Bay Trail, upcoming battles with Chevron that might be won, a long-standing negative image that is in the process of changing. The city's face to the world (its logo/slogan) should reflect those developments & that direction.


  • I agree with you totally, as well as with the author of the timely article.  Can the original seal be in some way incorporated with the Rosie Poster?  The "We Can Do It!" is a much better slogan than we currently have.


  • How about – “We Can Do It!!...We Did It Before!!”


  • WE CAN DO IT?  SI, SE PUEDE?  During this election season, it is too much like Barack Obama's campaign literature.  You can be a partisan, but I don't think Richmond should get on Obama's bandwagon by placing his slogan as the City's slogan!


  • Very, VERY amusing!


  • I too like the idea of using the original city logo. Go for it, Tom!


  • We Can Do It!  would be a great city slogan.  Although in some ways it's as vague as City of Pride & Purpose, it has a legitimate tie to Richmond's WWII history and National Historical Park. Not sure about reusing the 1905 logo - perhaps if it was modernized - but I just don't think it fits with the We Can Do It slogan.


  • I too like the idea of using the original city logo. Go for it, Tom!


  • The trouble with "We can do it!" is that it too-much evokes Home Depot ads.


  • The current slogan came out of a slogan contest held by the council sometime in the late '80's or maybe in 1990 or so.  It was one of the slogans suggested by someone in the public, I believe . Jim McMillan and LaVonne Niccolls were on the council at the time.  I vaguely remember reading an article in the Times when it happened so some research into Times articles may reveal the source.  Jim McMillan or John Zee may remember


  • I like the "We Can Do It" slogan.   And I also like the 100 years logo!


  • Any slogan would be better than one containing the word "Pride".  As one of the Seven Deadly Sins, "pride" conveys only negative connotations, e.g. "goeth before a fall", conceit, puffery and arrogance. It seems that a new slogan should evoke Richmond's 32 miles of spectacular shoreline. e.g. "The Shoreline City", rather than make dubious proclamations such as Pride, Purpose or We Can Do It (do what?). As to the logo, I suggest having a design competition open only to Richmond residents to be conducted after selecting a slogan, which also might be worthy of a similar competition.   The 1905 City seal is, well, dated.


  • While I certainly agree that our current logo means nothing and I have pondered and wondered about it for my whole ten years here, we HAVE had it for 30 years, people DO identify with it,  and it should continue to be on your business cards until such time as a new logo symbol, logotype and slogan are agreed upon by the powers that be.  By placing an new but old symbol on your cards,  you are breaking the continuity of the current 30 year old logo that residents identify with and, perhaps worse still, you open up the option to everyone with any kind of  City business card to choose a logo symbol of their own which, given peoples' taste, could include anything from cartoon characters to phallic symbols.  I assume you get my drift...you are opening up a Pandora's Box. May I suggest that you discuss this matter with a graphic designer, perhaps Nick Despota of Richmond, who does a lot of graphics work for the City and for firms in the city, to understand the idea of marketing the continuity of graphic identity (which, as an architect, you already do!) and perhaps stage a contest or just outright hire him to do a new identity program for Richmond. Then, ALL City business cards, letterhead, envelopes, buildings, etc.  will get changed to the new logo, new look,  etc.and will have the continuity that is required.


  • This was hilarious !


  • Sounds good to me. Especially if we actually do something ...



  • liked your idea of : "A City of Too Many Parks".  I think Steve Duran agrees with that one. How about :  "Richmond, Chevron's City" Just kidding.


  • Since you asked, I don't really like "We Can Do It."  To me, that phrase sounds like the city is struggling to overcome odds or obstacles. This task (branding) is best coordinated by a qualified marketing/logo firm that knows what it's doing. Then, they focus-group test the top ideas to arrive at something that both feels right to those who live and work here, as well as eliciting positive feelings in potential business interests. Why don't we be professional and hire professionals? We would end up with a logo and slogan that are forward thinking and represent our wonderfully diverse community. In not all cases, but I think that you 'get what you pay for' when branding our City. While the city seal is official looking, it doesn't inspire. Why don't we push the green agenda and our cultural diversity?


  • Thank you thank you thank you for bringing this up. Some guy's noodling becomes codified into 'tradition'. Neither the slogan nor the logo have any meaning to me, except that it really does look like the 70's. Maybe we can add a mullet to the bird/seal thing and bring it into the 1980's, at least.


  • Hey Tom: I’m one of those crazy people who rather liked City of Pride and Purpose, but then I'm not a Catholic so I don't give a damnabout deadly sins, and I think pride in accomplishments is natural and healthy. These slogans are all about emotion anyway. The CAn Do slogan from WWII is okay but I am eternally disgusted at the way the working Rosie is always depicted as White when most of the Rosies were Black. It bugs me and it's racist. Yes, the original 1905 seal is good too, go with it, But first lets worry about Chevron and its nefarious plans.


  • Richmond: doing our part to overspend on stupid stuff Richmond: you live WHERE? Richmond: where our roads = your need for tire realignment Richmond: where we strive to do better in the face of political expedience Richmond: melting pot since immigration was a good thing


  • Not too sure if this is appropriate, though I’m throwing it out there anyway. You likely know our “Firefighter of the Year”, Marc Lucero did a great job creating the uniform patches and t-shirt logos for each of our Richmond Fire Stations –everyone loves them.  Because he so talented, works for and loves the City-and it’s rich history, he might be swayed into incorporating a meaningful design with “Rosie” and the original 1905 logo into the perfect logo and slogan for Richmond.  It might be an idea to consider, you or Chief Banks could ask him if he would put together a couple designs for review, and maybe even a vote. He’s that good! 


  • I can't stand Richmond's slogan....City of Pride and Purpose.  It reminds me time and time again of Pride and Prejudice, the Jane Austen Novel - a situation light years away from Richmond California of the twenty first century.  I agree whole-heartedly....what purpose?  Every time I see it I chortle with disgust.  It means nothing to me and at the same time creates vague connotations that do not remind me of our city.  We Can Do It! as an alternative is something to continue thinking about. As far as a logo, Richmond is so diverse, that it would be difficult to come up with something that everyone agrees upon.  I like the We Can Do It poster, but not sure a white female flexing her muscle would fit our current image. This is something for our great artists to work upon, especially at Richmond's Art Center.  Maybe incorporating the muscle flexer in a broader visual.