The public reaction to the proposed “A little Different” branding was so negative that Decatur City Council members agreed Monday they want something totally different.
Councilman Chuck Ard proposed at the work session that the council hold a 3:30 p.m. Aug. 29 work session with Big Communications, the author of the unpopular proposal, to discuss new options in branding the city.
Ard said he wants anyone, including the public, to attend the work session and make suggestions on how they want the city to proceed or if they have suggestions for a new branding.
“If you like — and don’t want us to lose — the fact that Decatur is the River City, then come tell us,” Ard said.
A committee of leaders from multiple city government and private groups unanimously selected “A little Different.” However, city leaders said most of the reaction from city residents has been negative.
Councilwoman Kristi Hill served on that committee and she said Monday the group thought it had something “modern and edgy” that would promote the city.
“We got excited because it was unanimous but, if the public doesn’t like it, there’s not going to be any civic pride in it,” Hill said. “There’s never going to be 100% support but we would like for most people to like it.”
Hill said “A little Different” is a lot like Austin, Texas’ branding, "Keep Austin Weird."
“Decatur is not Austin, Texas, and I’m not sure if we're ready for something that edgy,” Hill said.
Councilman Charles Kirby said he likes the Big leadership and believes it’s a good company, but the public just didn’t like the slogan and it doesn’t fit Decatur.
“I don’t have a bad feeling about these guys,” Kirby said. “I’m OK with giving them another chance.”
Ard said he had a lengthy conversation with John Montgomery, CEO and founder of the Birmingham company, and he said Montgomery is willing to try again.
“I’ve asked Big to discuss a framework of what they are going to do and they’ve agreed to start from scratch,” Ard said. “They want the business and they have a lot invested in us. We have a lot invested in them.”
Ard said Big’s additional work will cost the city more, “but we need to give it one more try.”
Council President Paige Bibbee said the firm has billed the city for $119,000. The city’s contract calls for paying Big up to $269,000, but that amount included managing the brand after it became official.
“Their bills have been kind of vague,” Bibbee said. “They need to know we want an itemized bill.”
Ard said all of Big’s work won’t be wasted because much of their research can be used in the new brand.
Bibbee said Big had already purchased promotional items for the unapproved campaign, so there will need to be some discussion on payment for these items.
Mayor Tab Bowling took responsibility for Big feeling it could buy the items because he pushed for the company to allow him to roll out the branding campaign at the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce’s annual “State of the City” breakfast in March.