New Minneapolis logo: Now with fewer sailboats

After “extensive research of best practices on brand identity for large organizations and businesses,” the Minneapolis Communications Department has determined the city’s 1980s-era logo is outdated and overly complicated.

For one thing, it has too many sailboats.

To address this problem, staff are recommending the council adopt a new, streamlined emblem, which emphasizes the city’s name and reduces the sailboat count from two to one — a 50 percent cut.

The accompanying “graphic standards policy” also includes an approved palette of colors that must be used for all city communications. There are three acceptable shades of blue, one of green, and five subtle hues of gray. Orange, purple, yellow and red are OK, but only as accent colors.

The Communications Department says the proposed changes will bring a variety of benefits, among them building “public trust.” They also created a mandatory template for Powerpoint presentations, which is expected to save “considerable staff time” currently spent designing such documents from scratch.

The proposed changes will keep the city in line with current trends in branding.

Many companies — including Minnesota Public Radio — have taken steps to simplify the formerly baroque images that were their trademarks. City staff note that Starbucks, Walmart and Apple have made similar moves over the last decade.

Staff opted for a “refreshed” sailboat logo, rather than a complete overhaul, because the public has long associated the landlocked city with nautical imagery. Given what happened when Austin, Minn. went for a more out-of-the box re-branding, that’s probably wise.

Assuming the council approves it, the new logo will be phased in gradually. As a result, the second sailboat will likely haunt the city for years to come, staff acknowledge. After all, it is emblazoned, among other places, on the city’s manhole covers.