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The Oak Park Penis: Does the Village’s New Logo Look Like a Phallus?

This content originally appeared on my former Chicagosphere online-media blog, hosted on the Chicago Tribune‘s ChicagoNow network.

What would you do if your municipal branding consultant suggested at a public board meeting that your town’s new logo look like a penis? That happened this week in upscale Oak Park, Illinois. As local bloggers and Twitter users in the west-suburban village continue to voice shock over the new logo, I put it to you, Chicago. Does Oak Park’s new logo look like what I think it does?

This afternoon, my Twitter pal, Oak Leaves town hall reporter John P. Huston (@oakpark), posted to his News Peg blog an entry about Oak Park’s proposed new logo. The official logo, pictured below, was proposed on Monday to the Village Board by Ed Barlow, director of client services of “community branding experts” firm North Star Destination Strategies, for use by the Oak Park Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Proposed Oak Park Logo

The logo and, um, strap line (I swear, the correct term) are meant to convey Oak Parkers as risk takers. I’d love to know how many of you out there think “risk taker” when you think about residents of Chicago’s closest west-suburban neighbor. Progressive? Absolutely. But status quo? Overwhelmingly. (I suppose that’s what you get when you a give your local branding campaign to a company in another state–North Star’s HQ is in Nashville, TN.)

However, I’d much rather ask in the spirit of the impending holiday season, ahem, do you see what I see?  Especially when you compare Oak Park’s potential new logo to these–for want of a better term–other phallic logo fails:

Apparently, lots of surprised Oak Parkers do think their village’s new logo is in the same league as the above graphic (design) offenders. This post from Oak Park resident Christopher Richardson (@ursusmaritimus7)  on the Village’s Live Here blog, written in advance of shortly after Monday’s presentation, quickly generated some, er, pointed comments about the proposed logo. Among them, “giant diaper pin,” “marital aid,” and my personal favorite, “I can’t believe they paid an agency for that,” as well as the frankly restated logo sitting atop Chicagosphere today from @wbreaves.

The opinions on Twitter were even more blunt. So much so that the Oak Leaves saw fit to write about them yesterday. The tenor of those comments? How about, “That logo is bad” (@hotfunk), “No no no” (@robtwalicki), and “You have to be kidding, this stinks” (@skishome).

After learning of the logo debate from Richardson and Huston today, I asked my own Twitter followers whether they thought the logo really looked like a potential municipal penis. Here’s what some of them had to say:

About those ads that @egculbertson noted, they were proposed by the same branding consultant at the Village’s board meeting. Here’s one below featuring famous former Oak Park resident Frank Lloyd Wright. Look at where they put the logo–thankfully, not a little bit further to the left. (Download a PDF of the entire Oak Park brand logo presentation, including other sample ads utilizing the proposed logo, from this Oak Leaves mirror.)


Incredibly, according to this Oak Leaves article, Barlow actually told the Village board during Monday’s presentation:

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. Every community has a reputation, but few have the effective means to manage it. Branding is the practice of managing your reputation.”

I’m betting the public reaction to North Star’s seemingly pubic logo isn’t exactly what he had in mind. Of course, this is mostly the reaction from Oak Parkers. What do your eyes tell you about the potential logo?

And more to the point…WTF?!

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Michael Thaddeus Doyle

I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.

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