“Well, I’ve seen worse,” says Elliott Curson of the new Philadelphia logo recently unveiled by the city — the cracked-bell silhouette tag-lined “Life • Liberty • And You.” The veteran adman wasn’t the only one with an eh reaction: The blogosphere raged (“Uninspiring,” said one; “a crime” ranted another), and buzz around town wasn’t much better. “It’d be a great motto for Liberty Mutual,” remarked one PR player.
It’s definitely no Virginia Is for Lovers, but, says Convention & Visitors Bureau VP of marketing and communications Danielle Cohn, it never was supposed to be. Cohn helped helm the project, for which the city formed a council of 65 Philly leaders, who worked with the Star Group marketing firm. “We weren’t looking at a motto for marketing’s sake,” says Cohn, “but as a good way to give one voice across all city departments — one seamless brand.” If voice was what they wanted, they might have looked no further than Curson, whose billboard motto some years back was unmistakably us, if not exactly the tone the city wanted to set: “Philadelphia: Not as bad as Philadelphians say it is.”