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Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Apparently the buzz around downtown today was all about "branding Hartford". I think before we worry about a new logo, it might be more important to identify what we hope to be as a city.

One of the most discouraging things to me though was that this "branding" is more about downtown than it is a city as a whole. Downtown's contribution to the grandlist is not what identifies us as a City, it is the individuality of of our neighborhoods. That is where Hartford's strength lies if any of the outside consultants took the time to look at that.

I might also ask how many small business people have been approached by these consultants or even when was the last time they were approached by anyone from the Metro Hartford Alliance to see what they need as small business owners. I guess the same question could be asked though of the taxpayers employees working in Hartford's Economic Development Department.

With a mill rate for Hartford at over 71 mills, the highest in the State of Connecticut by almost 30 mills over the next closest town, "City of Hartford" and "Economic Development" seems to be an oxymoron. How can any business compete in this market, fancy logo or not.

I only stayed for a few minutes of the presentation at the Library tonight and as I looked at the cast of characters in the room, it seemed as though many of them were City employees, and unfortunately I didn't recognize any small business owners in attendance. That makes sense though, most small business owners are working 12, 14, 16 hours a day to stay afloat and be able to pay the outrageous taxes in Hartford.

I also was not impressed with the presentation. I have always felt that if you know and believe in your topic, a script is not necessary. Maybe talking points or notes to cover the topic, but to read from a speech shows you don't believe in or know the subject well enough. And no marketing companies from Hartford could have handled the contract?

And finally, I know that when the "New England's Rising Star" logo was drawn up, there was another City using almost an identical logo, except the arc of the shooting star went in the opposite direction of Hartford's. Now I find this new "branding" proposal eerily similar to Hartford Hospital's new logo.

Maybe the designers all attended the same seminar on logo "branding" design techniques.

The old Hartford Hospital logo was the two blue "H"'s forming the cube. Recently Hartford Hospital changed to a more modern logo for "branding" all of their operations under the Hartford Hospital umbrella. Do you find the circular pattern, and even the position of the colors, similar to the proposed Hartford logo?

To read more about Hartford Hospital's "branding", click here. They seem to know why they did it as opposed to Hartford's need to fix its identity crisis

Maybe the Colt's Dome or even the Soldiers and Sailor's Memorial Arch might be more identifiable than a knock off of the Hartford Hospital logo.

The Courant story is more interesting to read the comments, click here to read Jenna Carlesso's story, but be sure to scroll through the comments and read those. You can also click on the link to the right for Jeff Cohen's take at WNPR


RB said...

I believe Hartford is "putting the cart before the horse". Repair the streets, clean up the trash and garbage, stop the murders, car jackings,and robberies. Instill a sense of pride in the people who reside there. Then worry about "Branding". By the way, it's too bad that Hartford couldn't find a company in Hartford, or in Connecticut, or even in THIS COUNTRY to take on this branding job. They gave the money to a firm in CANADA! Hartford shoots itself in the foot AGAIN!


I agree, I would think that there might be a couple of Hartford companies that would welcome a $200,000 contract, especially if it would help them pay their outrageous taxes in Hartford.

Wyatt Burp said...

Hartford...Coonnecticut's " murder and violence capital" is the most appropriate slogan...the logo would be a gun...

Anonymous said...

That has got to be the most god awful ugliest logo ever, and they spent how much on it? What a waste of taxpayers money. They should of tapped into the local colleges or schools who have programs for graphic design and made it a competition amongst the schools. Their new motto after the DTC endorsements should be "Hartford, short sighted & self serving".

Anonymous said...

What was wrong with "new englands rising star"?
It's been used as the punch line to a joke for all these years

Mr King said...

How about: " may get shot but you could have a really great time"

Mike Zaleski said...


Thanks for coming to the evening presentation. I wish you had stayed a little longer. If you had stayed you would have learned a lot more about the process that is underway. Having been involved in the process from the start, we made sure this was a comprehensive, data driven process. Instead of assuming we know what people think (like has been done so many times in the past), we asked them. There were surveys and focus groups. Yes, city small business people and residents were interviewed, as well as people who live throughout the region.

The Hartford rebranding process that is underway is about the entire city, not just the Downtown. If it was just about the CBD, the mark might just say Downtown Hartford. It doesn't and any campaign will focus on all of the city's assets including the neighborhoods. I believe its impossible to have a strong Downtown with out strong neighborhoods and vice versa.

While many people have understandably gravitated to the proposed marks, I think the campaigns presented are more important. That is where we will be able to tell the real story of the city.

As for using a Canadian firm, an RFP process took place last year and firms from the city, region and beyond were invited to submit their place branding qualifications. 21 firms expressed an interest and we had meetings with 16 qualified firms. We saw presentations from a short list of 6. Three suburban firms, three from afar (NYC, etc.). All of the Hartford firms that expressed initial interest dropped out of the process themselves. Place branding is not something that your average marketing company gets into.

Finally, I think you would have appreciated some of the comments at the end from several residents who spoke. I am confident most of the comments from the morning and evening sessions will be incorporated in some way into the final product.

I am hopeful that you and others see yesterday's sessions for what they were intended. A chance for the general public and other stakeholders to chime in and have their comments considered prior to the launch of the campaign. If you have not already, please go to and fill out the survey. Thanks.

Mike Zaleski
Hartford BID

K2 said...

What about 'h' as in heroin and high taxes? Very appropriate.

Bang Bang said...

Hartford...Connecticut's SHOOTING star is even more appropriate.

latino lingo said...

You make some good points, Kevin. I did sit through the whole morning presentation and I can confirm that the concepts shown were pretty much exclusive to downtown.

Beyond the criticisms on the logos, the colors, etc., the major problems with the new branding concept is that it speaks almost exclusively to choir audiences and more importantly doesn't do anything to try to get the city over the negative image the city has to outsiders. Further, it also ignores the ethnic neighborhoods and multicultural population that make up the capital city. I have some additional thoughts you can read on my blog

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone would think the Hartford Courant comments section had anything useful to say about this topic or any other. The comments are pretty much hateful, negative, and unproductive that do nothing to help the city. If you don't like Hartford, that's fine, but many of us live here and actually love this place and see a lot more good than most of the commenters will ever acknowledge or know. There are a whole host of reasons that Hartford has the problems that it does, and most people's petty, sniping, hater comments do nothing to move things forward. It is clear that no one is required to break an intellectual sweat when making such statements.