Local artist’s attempt at town logo joins firm’s trio of designs for trip to Nashville
By Lynn J. Richardson
Artist Bill Bledsoe met with Town Administrator Bob Browning and Mayor Kelly Wolfe on Jan. 25, and showed them some designs he had been working on.
“I had heard he had developed some logo ideas on his own and so I asked him to share them with us,” Wolfe said. “We were just trying to do our due diligence. When we saw them, we thought they were good enough they deserved to be included in with those being taken to Nashville.”
The designs were taken to Nashville by Claudia Moody, CEO of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, and Alicia Phelps, marketing and tourism director for the Town of Jonesborough.
Moody and Phelps, who are both members of the town Logo Committee, also brought three designs created by Hillhouse Graphic Design to the meeting.
Wolfe is anxious to hear the feedback, but added that neither he nor Bledsoe wants to disrupt the “fine work of the Logo Committee.”
“Bill in no way wants to infringe on the process that has been put in place,” Wolfe said. “He is willing to work with the Logo Committee as they continue to develop their ideas.
“My intention, based on his interest and his obvious creative ability, is to add him to the Logo Committee at our next board meeting.”
Creating the logo has been a long and somewhat controversial process, with Hillhouse developing design after design and presenting them at numerous Logo Committee meetings. Finally, the committee settled on two basic recommendations, one of which featured a flame icon.
Hillhouse took the committee’s recommendation to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen late last year, but the designs were rejected. The BMA was especially critical of the flame icon and requested new ideas be developed.
Hillhouse revised the designs and created three logos: one with a simplified historic script - with and without the flame icon - and another which featured a courthouse clock tower icon.
Bledsoe’s design also features the courthouse tower, enclosed in an arch, the international symbol for gateway.
That image, he says, is important to Jonesborough’s history.
“Jonesborough has always been referred to as the ‘original gateway to the west,’” he said. “I wanted to implement as many things that represent Jonesborough’s history as I could.”
He has also included the date Jonesborough was founded – 1779.
Bledsoe parallels his rendering with the idea behind Walt Disney’s castle logo.
“That logo, one of the three most widely recognized in the world, allows Disney to show it in different color variations, different themes, but the construct of the logo can still be maintained.”
That could be done with his design as well, he said.
“It would have versatility in such a manner so the symbols for different things that go on in town could be integrated without changing the context of the logo,” he said. “We can change the background color, add musical notes, put in the yellow and white stripes of storytelling tents, fall leaves, all kinds of things, to show the different annual events we have going on in Jonesborough.”
Bledsoe is no stranger to branding and logos. He worked for more than three years with the National Football League as part of the team responsible for the branding transition turning the Houston Oilers into the Tennessee Titans.
It’s important, he said, for Jonesborough to have its own unique identity.
“Jonesborough is a whimsical, wonderful place and the logo should reflect that,” Bledsoe said. “That’s why I went with a hand-drawn version of the courthouse instead of a more graphic rendering.”
He also feels that using the motto, “Storytelling Capital of the World,” is a mistake.
Although he says the town should continue with its plan to trademark the slogan, he believes putting it on the logo comes across as being “pretentious.”
“It has a real exclusivity to it and it makes Jonesborough sound like a one-trick pony,” Bledsoe added.
His suggested motto, “Small Town, Big Story,” says more about Jonesborough and all it has to offer, he said. “We need to express all the wonderful things that have happened long before storytelling ever started and will surely happen after, if, God forbid, storytelling would ever go away.”
Coming up with just the right design through working with the Logo Committee, is something he is looking forward to doing.
“Sometimes you have to figure out what you don’t want before you can know what you do want. That’s the creative process,” Bledsoe said. “It should be an opportunity for everyone to shine.
“We need to say, ‘Here is where we are and here is where we need to go,’ and then everybody can work together. That’s what I know will happen when everyone has Jonesborough’s best interest at heart.”