New Minneapolis sailboat logo hits the shoals


The single sailboat appears to be sunk.

Minneapolis City Council members Friday took a different tack on changing the city’s distinctive sailboat logo. The city’s communications office had wanted to move to a more streamlined one-sailboat logo, following the corporate trend toward simpler symbols embraced by blue chip behemoths like Apple, Walmart and Starbucks.

City council members on Friday, though, turned back the single sailboat in favor of keeping the city’s current two-boat logo. Members expressed concerns that moving to a single boat would create confusion. There’s also no money to sandblast its old emblem off every sign, vehicle and manhole cover where it currently appears.

“We’ll end up in a situation where a decade, two decades, three decades down the road, we’re going to have two logos out there, which my understanding from a branding standpoint is probably not the best thing,” Council Member Andrew Johnson said.

The logo began with a single sailboat back in the 1970s, and its companion has been around since at least the 1980s.

The plan to revise the design led some council members to question whether the watercraft was the right symbol for a city more than 1,000 miles from the nearest ocean.

“I don’t support the sailboats as our city’s image,” said Council Member Alondra Cano. “I don’t know that that represents my constituents or the people who live in my ward.”

Council Member John Quincy was the most vocal advocate for the one-sailboat solution.

“I don’t personally believe anybody’s going to be confused by the fact that there’s a sailboat on a regulatory services pool car in our fleet, not knowing which city of Minneapolis they’re part of,” Quincy said.

  • Matthew Becker

    “A different tack…”

    *golf clap*

    • Do you think that went… overboard?

      • Al

        You may deserve astern reprimand for that one.

        • Matthew Becker

          *thunderous applause*

          • Postal Customer

            Poop deck.

            That is all.

  • Gary F

    I guess they had the crime problems all solved.

    This is big news.

    • Postal Customer

      Presumably they can work on multiple issues simultaneously. I’d be scared if they couldn’t.

  • Jeff C.

    “I don’t know that that represents my constituents or the people who live in my ward.”

    What does? Suggest something better. (I”m not saying that the sailboat is the best logo. I’d like to hear what he thinks is better.)

    • Tim

      I’d go with the skyline or an iconic location like the Stone Arch Bridge, myself, though I’d understand wanting to avoid having something that was located in a specifc part of the city. I think she makes a fair point, but if Minneapolis sticks with the City of Lakes nickname, it also makes sense to keep something lake-related in the logo.

      • John

        The bridge idea I like. The skyline . . . well, that changes from time to time, so it’s probably not a great choice.

        maybe a water skier.

    • She. CM Cano is a woman.

  • MrE85

    In case anyone is wondering, Bob Collins is on vacation. Actually, he’s stuck at an airport on his way to a vacation. That’s what happens when you leave the flying to others, Bob.

    • Time to spare? Go by air!

      • MrE85

        Glad the old sense of humor is still intact. Had a similar experience recently on a “routine” flight to Washington DC. Ended up scheduled on 3 different airlines, with stops in Madison and Chicago. My “AM flight” finally landed in DC after midnight.

      • Gary F

        So where is the “feel good Friday” post?

  • Andy

    How is it possible that there seems to be not one person with a graphic design background weighing in on this conversation? While i think all 3 iterations of the mpls logo are inappropriate for the city, i find the most current attempt most shockingly out of touch. Why is there no effort being put forth to brand the city?

    • johnepeacock

      I’ll toss my hat in… Designers generally despise “design by committee”, something a municipal project will always entail. You never win, it’s always a losing situation for everyone.

  • Hello, designer person here… The fact that the logo was not presented as a larger system design is highly problematic. Brands and identity are much more than just a single graphic mark. In other words, Apple is more than just the apple logo.

    Another problem sign: when doing an identity design process, a good design team would have uncovered the fact that there is “no money to sandblast its old emblem off every sign, vehicle and manhole cover where it currently appears” and would have stopped the project right there. Designers don’t like to design things that will never be put into use.

    A good design team probably would have wanted to meet with a few more people, citizens and bureaucrats, and those people would have known this was in the works. My impression from this is that it was done in the dark and people were surprised with it, another sign of a bad process.

    My read is that the whole thing was ham-fisted by the Minneapolis communications office. I wouldn’t fault designers here, or, if the designers are to be blamed, they were in over their head and/or given poor parameters by the communications department.

    Visually speaking the new logo isn’t bad, but it’s not an improvement. The existing logo worked in black and white, multiple colors, etc, but the new one needs color to exist. The typeface on the new mark is also pretty dated in time, about 7 years ago, whereas the older logo is more classic and modern. The old logo could probably be updated with a more contemporary typographic treatment and work well with the existing, old logos that couldn’t be updated. This new logo cannot do that.

  • Molly Timmerman

    Has anyone else noticed that this logo debate started after Mpls placed all those Mpls signs w logos at freeway entrance and exit ramps throughout the city? Additionally does anyone know how much those cost or how they were paid for?

    • Chris

      Those were a gift from our MNDOT overlords. That whole project cost $500,000, including all the pillars, and landscaping and plantings all along whole area that was disrupted during $300 Million crosstown project.

  • Nik

    I grew up in Minneapolis and moved when I was 27. I didn’t even know the city HAD a logo. Now I live in Chicago, which proudly displays its extremely iconic flag and logo basically everywhere. I never knew that a city could embed its identity in a graphic format, and it’s very simple!

    As far as “saving money,” the city could open itself to citizen submissions. I’m a graphic designer and proud of coming from Minneapolis (even if I had to leave). I’m sure I’m not the only one who would be eager to submit some ideas for the city free of any sort of charge, and I’d be incredibly proud to say I designed my city’s logo. Sailboats not only don’t represent the city–they also just look like incredibly generic clipart.