The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday (Oct. 11) received their first look at a proposed new logo and seal for the city. The city hired Fort Smith-based RightMind Advertising to help produce the city’s first Branding and Style Guide along with a new city logo and seal.
Part of the city administration’s 2022 budget included a proposal for developing a branding and style guide, Shari Cooper, the city’s public relations and communications manager, said in a memo on the subject.
Under the contract with RightMind, the consultant worked with Cooper “to develop a scope of work that included designing consistent branding standards for the City of Fort Smith and its departments,” the memo said.
The standards include: brand voice and tone guidance for communication staff; updated line work for the city’s logo and seal; modernization and formalization of the city seal; the creation of department identities in a consistent and unified format; the establishment of a formal color palette and ADA-approved font family; development of business communication standards (e.g., letterhead, business cards, presentations, email signature templates); social media template recommendations and guidelines; and a brand alignment checklist for staff.
A large part of a brand relies upon its logo, the report states.
The presented logo includes two specific fonts placed around a graphic representation of a western pioneer fort watchtower that flies the American flag on its rooftop. The logo will not lose the iconic look of the city’s current logo, just cleans up the flag so it reproduces better, makes the tower bolder and modernizes the logo, said Chad Jones, president and creative director for RightMind Advertising.
“We just wanted to enhance, modernize, not throw away (the old logo) and start from scratch,” Jones said.
City Administrator Carl Geffken said the idea was evolutionary, not revolutionary.
“We want everyone to recognize the current city logo as Fort Smith. What we have done is remove some of the more egregious aspects, modernized it slightly and still kept it so that everyone can recognize the trademark and logo,” Geffken said.
The new city logo uses two fonts instead of three and uses a darker (Belle Point Blue) and red (Regiment Red). If approved, there also will be an official city seal.
“It’s our understanding, the board has never approved an official city seal,” Jones said.
The seal incorporates and mirrors many elements of the Arkansas state seal, Jones said. The state’s motto, “Regnat Populus,” (Latin for “The People Rule”) appears on the banner that embellishes the American eagle and the Goddess of Liberty. An angel on the left wears a sash that displays the word mercy, while a sword on the right indicates justice.
“The Goddess of Liberty and bald eagle represent common American symbols of freedom and virtue. A steamboat, bee hive, plow and a bushel of wheat represent the city’s industry ties to agriculture and its character as a river town,” the report said.
The city of Fort Smith “city seal” will reflect the official business of the city, specifically its legislative body, the Mayor of Fort Smith and the City Board of Directors. Each city department will also have a logo that uses the city’s logo and adds the department names, Jones said.
“This is the groundwork to make things consistent. We need the basis, the foundation, the consistent brand, consistent look, so everyone knows it’s from the city of Fort Smith,” Geffken said.
The logo and seal will honor what the city has had, while making it cleaner, modern and will live well in the digital environment, Jones said. The new branding is needed before the completion of the city’s new website, which is scheduled to be up after the first of the year, Geffken said.
Cost to incorporate the new logo and seal will be marginal, he said. Departments will not purchase new items, but rather when items, such as business cards, letterhead or vehicles are purchased, the new logo will be used, he said.
The issue was approved to be put on the Nov. 1 board of directors regular meeting agenda.