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City embarks on logo redesign, reconsidering David silhouette

An example of using the "COS" logo in branding and marketing.
An example of using the "COS" logo in branding and marketing.
Courtesy image
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Just as the city of Sarasota is rebranding its official departments and communications with its new city seal, it is now embarking on updating its logo, which since the 1990s has prominently featured an image of Michelangelo’s David statue, a replica of which stands at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

DreamLarge, a Sarasota creative company that orchestrated the design of the city seal, was contracted to follow that up with a logo redesign process. 

That effort now has been taken in-house as city Marketing and Outreach Coordinator Ciera Coleman, who has a background in branding and logo design, presented preliminary options to the City Commission during its Feb. 12 workshop.

“We did get some options from a third-party vendor,” said Director of Government Affairs Jennifer Jorgensen, referring to DreamLarge. “We got some great options, and we decided that right now we wanted to see if we could give staff an opportunity to provide some options as well.”

Coleman, a Sarasota native who has worked for the city for two years, took the commission’s three-pronged guidance — refresh David, modernize David or eschew David altogether and explore a new direction — and developed design concepts of each.

Among the concepts were a stylized capital S wrapping around the image of David in a circular configuration (refresh David), a “window” effect with a silhouette of David against a backdrop of shapes that suggest the letter S (modernize David), and a geometric implication of the letters “COS” — for city of Sarasota — which can be filled with any variety of images and colors to identify various aspects of city life here (something else).

Variations of the iconic David silhouette in S-shaped "windows."
Courtesy image

For all the designs, Coleman said she drew inspiration from the city’s coastal, natural, architectural and cultural identities for images and colors.

Other than Erik Arroyo, commissioners largely dismissed the refresh David designs in deference to the other options, and provided guidance for further development

The design work, Coleman said, started with a survey of city residents and others.

“There are very strong opinions on both sides, but overall, the data did show that 67% either dislike or were indifferent to the current logo,” Coleman said. “That is reflected in the qualitative data and the write-in responses that we received. From that data, we extrapolated a design brief with some primary goals that we want to achieve. 

An example of the basic "COS" logo.
Courtesy image

“We want to design a logo that is modern, dynamic, creative, unique, showcases the city of Sarasota as an arts leader, highlights our city's natural features and beauty, honors our city's unique history and look towards an aspirational future.”

All of that means a logo that is noticeable, legible, adaptable, memorable, understandable and timeless.

Although Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch holds an affinity for David, she said Coleman’s work with the “something else” concept meets all of those deliverables.

“It's iconic. It's recognizable. It's very different from any other city in the state,” she said. “They all have birds and sunsets and palm trees and water. There are a handful of city logos that are iconic that stand out that really brand that city. David is ours and it has been our symbol since the ’90s. That's unique to our city, but I really appreciate what you've done here. I think that it's something that we can really work with.”

The commission has not set a time frame for revisiting the logo redesign. 



Andrew Warfield

Andrew Warfield is the Sarasota Observer city reporter. He is a four-decade veteran of print media. A Florida native, he has spent most of his career in the Carolinas as a writer and editor, nearly a decade as co-founder and editor of a community newspaper in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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