Decatur City Council members want to get broader input after receiving mostly negative reactions from a sampling of constituents to the proposed “A little Different” branding.

The City Council members agreed at Monday’s work session that they want to present the proposed branding options created by Big Communications to local civic clubs and other community groups to find out whether it enjoys local support. Council members Kristi Hill and Billy Jackson were absent.

The city paid $267,275 to hire Big, a Birmingham public relations firm, to create the branding. The firm presented three options to a committee of city leaders, and that committee was unanimous in its choice of “A little Different” as the campaign slogan.

However, Councilman Chuck Ard said he sent 60 emails to constituents seeking a reaction to the proposed branding and a majority were negative.

“My concern from the get-go is there wasn’t enough involvement from the people to know whether we’re getting a good option,” Ard said.

Ard said one problem with “A little Different” is an explanation is required for people to understand the concept.

“You shouldn’t need a video to explain a slogan,” Ard said.

Councilman Charles Kirby said he doesn’t like the “little” portion of “A little Different,” and most of the reaction he’s received has been negative.

“I don’t think ‘A little Different’ works when the other communities around us are being successful and we’re not,” Kirby said.

In his June presentation at a council work session, Big official Mark Ervin said the concept plays “on the idea that Decatur is small yet distinct. It’s the best of small-town Alabama with access to a major metropolitan job market.”

Ervin said he used “little” because a survey done by the company showed the size of a city is important in distinguishing it from other cities. 

“A little Different” was option 3, and Ard said he doesn’t know enough about the first two options. Option 1 is “Decatur Dreams,” and the second option is “Better Not Bigger.”

Ervin said Option 1 plays up the optimism for the future and tries to create some civic pride. Option 2 distinguishes Decatur from its neighbors “by saying bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better, but it’s simply a great place to live,” he said.

Ard said he would like for diverse groups to see a presentation on the three options and then seek feedback from them.

“The whole point is to get feedback as to whether the community will accept this or not,” Ard said.

The council discussed asking Big to make the presentations to the community groups, but Mayor Tab Bowling pointed out they would likely have to pay the company for each presentation.

Council President Paige Bibbee said after the meeting she isn’t sure Big would support more presentations since they were insistent they would come up with the branding campaign and then they expected to present it to the committee for approval.

Bibbee said she had to explain to Big officials several times that the City Council had final approval on any campaign. She invited Big officials to Monday’s meeting, but they did not attend.

Bibbee suggested that committee members or Hill, who served on the committee, could make the presentations.

“I could make the presentation if needed,” Bibbee said. “It doesn’t take much to turn on a PowerPoint presentation.”

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(8) comments

Susan Graben

The slogan could be seen as derogatory. If a person is viewed as "odd," he/she is "a little different."

Chuck Johns

To have spent a quarter million dollars on this, someone should be in jail !

The council and mayor should be forced to pay restitution for this act of stupidity.

Is THIS level of stupidity what we get for our tax dollars ??

Judy Robbins

What a ridiculous waste of money. I just moved to Decatur from a lifetime in Montgomery because of the wonderful outdoor recreation, small town charm, convenience to big-city Huntsville. This is what you have going for you here. It's wonderful! Here's my suggestion (free): Recreate Your Life in Decatur--Hometown Charm, Big City Convenience.

Seek retirees too. Decatur has what we're looking for: excellent medical care and the arts (symphony, etc.) right here and in nearby Huntsville; wonderful outdoor recreation right here and nearby; compactness (I could ride my bike to every store I frequent); colleges galore nearby for lifetime learning. Recreate Your Life In Decatur--Compact, Charming, Convenient.

Colleen Dixon

Why not just ask the community for slogans? Have a slogan competition with a free Point Mallard Pass as the prize. $55 if you buy it when they are on sale. :) Decatur where it's greater is still my favorite, ha. We are not a dinky little town that is a little odd. That is what "A Little Different" sounds like to me.

Maxwell Hamilton

This council has just reached the pinnacle in absurdity with this “branding” effort. There has never been a more clear example of ineptitude and wastefulness than these “leaders”, and it’s more than the clown show in city hall. The blast radius of foolishness encompasses all of downtown Decatur.

Chuck Johns


Charlie Specoli

Well let us be blunt, another study, and clearly a waste of money if these slogans is the best they can do. Decatur wants to attract young professionals, stressing us being a small town (and we are not) won't attract many if any young professionals. Decatur has a little bit of everything, and it's a great place to call home. But, as it has been pointed out "branding" within itself will not attract new residents. Even though the current council will argue, our streets for decades are terrible. I would hate to be in an ambulance with a neck or back injury travelling 8th street S.E. beside the emergency room, a street that also goes to point mallard. Invest your money wiser Decatur, and start with wasting money with consultants. This clearly was a waste.

J. T.

Basically. This 'study' could have been done by any one of the many paid city employees and save that $261,000.

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