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City brand: Is that all? 

Between the Lines

About 50 people gathered Tuesday afternoon inside the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, eager to learn the outcome of a nine-month mission to produce a new "brand" for the city.

It was a formidable task, if only because the Springs possesses such an enormous — and at times exasperating — variety of treasures, people, philosophies and lifestyles. Trying to please everyone in this metropolis of 600,000-plus would be impossible. But don't say that to Doug Price, the determined new CEO of Experience Colorado Springs, the convention and visitors bureau. Price arrived last winter and quickly became the ringleader for a rebranding effort that had meandered since 2009.

Tuesday, two weeks ahead of the original timetable, Price and local officials unveiled the finished product:

Live it up!

That's the operative phrase, along with two logos to be used depending on the situation. One says Colorado Springs with a Pikes Peak backdrop, the other just "The Springs" with the mountain and two human figures, obviously active. (For more, go to liveitupcs.co.)

Something tells me that reactions in the Springs at large will be as varied as they were after the "big reveal" in the museum's historic courtroom.

Mayor Steve Bach led the euphoric side, calling it "exciting, simple, fresh and upbeat." City Council veteran Jan Martin added, "I really think it's something we can all rally around."

Among the more cynical reactions I've since encountered:

"It must've just beaten 'Go crazy!' 'Get nuts!' and 'Colorado Springs: Wowsers!'"

"That's all? Really?"

"Soooo 1970s."

"Looks like the Sky Sox logo."

As for my initial thoughts, most were positive. It shouldn't take long for "Live it up!" to stick as a recognizable label — though the city of Battle Creek, Mich., might feel ripped off, as you can see at downtownbattlecreek.com. And I like the separate logos, with Colorado Springs more for outsiders and "The Springs" for local residents and events. (Disclosure: I was among the longtime residents who last June offered Stone Mantel, the consulting firm based in Castle Rock, historical perspective on the city. Much to my surprise, some of my comments made the launch video. I had no other involvement or inside knowledge during the process.)

The most encouraging news Tuesday came from Price, saying that near the end of the process, Stone Mantel commissioned a survey of 200 residents, 200 past visitors and 150 companies that have expressed potential interest in moving here. That large sample group was shown the final logos and taglines. According to Price, 97 percent had a "very favorable impression" of the actual branding.

Since the intent obviously is trying to grab and lure strangers to Colorado Springs, that's a positive indication. Among locals, being involved early may have given them more buy-in. Others may not be quite so easily sold.

Lisa Czelatdko, seven months into her first term on City Council and an eight-year Springs resident, sounds like she's among that latter group. She liked some of the themes that inspired the branding result, emphasizing the outdoors, mountains and recreation.

"What they gave us today was fine. I do like it," Czelatdko says. "But I came here expecting them to tell us what we want our city to be. Are we the sports city? Are we the Olympic city? Or something else? I still want the one message that will tell me what we're all about, so we can promote it and push the city."

County commissioner Sallie Clark had a similar thought, saying, "It was a good start."

In other words, this $111,000 branding effort has done nothing wrong (except perhaps the Battle Creek issue), and the process deserves applause.

But for some of us, there's still one missing piece. One more label, slogan or catch-phrase, totally credible, that might permanently express how Colorado Springs sees its own identity.

We don't have that answer yet. But surely it has to be out there somewhere.

In the meantime, I guess we'll just live it up and see what happens.

routon@csindy.com

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