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West Fargo City Commission chooses not to move forward with suggested new brand

City commissioners were not on board with the new logo presented by Chandlerthinks consultants.

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A logo proposed by city of West Fargo by Chandlerthinks in 2022. Special to the Pioneer
Special to the Pioneer
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WEST FARGO — The West Fargo City Commission is not ready to "be bold."

The City Commission denied approving a new brand, including a new logo that would change the city's tagline from "A city on the grow" to "West Fargo, A Bolder Direction," at a special meeting held Thursday, July 28.

Earlier this year, the city hired branding consultants Chandlerthinks, based in Nashville, Tennessee, to study and create a new brand. The brand includes a city logo and overall marketing brand of the city to follow along with the city's story.

To determine a branding direction, Chandlerthinks held focus groups and sent surveys to residents of West Fargo and surrounding cities. Chandlerthinks founder and President Steve Chandler said more than 1,900 people participated in the group's research and surveys, which is among the highest participation results he has seen compared to projects the company worked on across the country.

Chandler said what they heard from residents is the city has changed quite a bit over the years.

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"We're dynamic," Chandler said. "A lot of things give us our identity. You've been a city on the grow for a while, we heard it overwhelmingly."

"But we're not the same place that people thought we were 25 years ago. Residents are very proud and enjoy the community."

Chandler said he also found the city is not "big promoters" of itself although some still felt West Fargo has long been in the shadow of Fargo.

"Those that have been here a while, there was not a lot of bragging about years back. You're not the same place you used to be, you've got some useful energy," he said.

Chandler suggested the city use a brand strategy that highlights its ability to offer many things to residents and visitors.

West Fargo Logo.jpg
City of West Fargo logo.

"It's time for West Fargo to be more than a city on the grow. It's time to purposefully harness its character so it is expressed in all aspects of the community, showing residents and everyone else it's truly one of a kind," he said.

He suggested the city change the logo from "The city of West Fargo: A City on the Grow" to "West Fargo, A Bolder Direction."

"It's creative, it's bold. It embraces our more youthful and energetic community," Chandler said. "It does leverage the direction of our name: West. And it references one of our guiding principals. If you remember from West Fargo 2.0, one of those principals was to be bold."

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He also said any logo or brand changes would happen slowly to keep costs down.

"It doesn't mean you change out all your hardware. Things that are printed should be a rolling change. Believe it or not, changing things out is not as expensive as you think. It's a slow roll," he said.

The change would have taken place in five steps starting with applying it internally, packaging the efforts, sharing with others starting with employees, creating a sense of place and, finally, extending it into the community.

However, the majority of commissioners were not fully impressed by the new brand, especially the logo.

Commissioner Mandy George said while she liked some aspects of the branding ideas, she did not like the logo at all.

"You don't think West Fargo with this," she said. "I think the proposed logo by itself is very boring."

"I feel like the the city on the grow is still relevant; it could be packaged a little differently," new Commissioner Roben Anderson said.

"The city on the grow has been West Fargo's battle cry and I think it will continue," Commissioner Mark Simmons said. "No offense, this is the ugliest logo I've seen. I don't get it."

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City Commissioner Brad Olson disagreed and approved of using a "bolder" logo.

"We're all afraid of change. Everything changes every day and some happens faster or slower than some would like. There's nothing wrong with changing the way we perceive ourselves," Olson said. "If we hadn't been that bold, we wouldn't be the city we are right now. So I'm 100% behind doing this."

City Administrator Tina Fisk said she feels like it is time the city changes its approach.

"We need to set ourselves apart," Fisk said. "People don't even know what city they live in half the time. We have a large group of citizens that want us to move forward."

The proposal was denied by a 3-2 vote with Olson and Mayor Bernie Dardis voting to move forward with the new branding. However, commissioners suggested Communications Director Melissa Richard work with George and Simmons to consider potential modernization to the city's brand in the future.

READ MORE FROM WEST FARGO EDITOR WENDY REUER
West Fargo Public Schools made the change to its student handbook which will apply to all schools. Fargo and Moorhead have similar policies, but they allow teacher discretion.

Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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