Ed Saltzberg, chair of the Falls Church Economic Development Authority (EDA), showed some chutzpa when he stood up at the monthly luncheon of the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce Tuesday to respond to the News-Press coverage last week of the controversial logo associated with a new EDA marketing study. He was dismayed that the News-Press focused on the logo and not the substance of the report. But in a conversation with him afterwards, it was explained that the article was never intended to be about the report, which could be saved for another day. Instead, it was about that logo, itself, what people think of it, and more importantly for us, how it came to be and what it implies. To us, and many others in town, it looks more like third grade refrigerator art than the work of a professional.
Companies and other entities spend fortunes on crafting just the right logo. It’s of huge importance and, indeed, it is amazing how much can be said with just the right visual image. A logo is a “gestalt,” and a good one is a total encapsulation of an identity and a mission. It’s amazing how the human mind can perceive a good logo and derive meaning from it. Logo creation is an exercise in “branding,” akin to a “Circle B Ranch” poker burned onto the hind quarters of the herd. To many who’ve recoiled at the EDA logo, having it singed onto their behinds would be like trusting Dennis the Menace to cut a stylish tattoo.
But to us, what’s wrong with the logo goes to more than its childish appearance. It’s about the flawed methodology utilized in arriving at it and the special arrogance of its inane lack of specificity. As tends to be the case with logos, good and bad alike, they can reveal more about what they represent than expected. In this case, it reveals what’s wrong with Falls Church’s overall approach to economic development. The logo was the product of a consensus-building meeting of citizens at the Community Center last spring. As such, it was a reflection of the lowest common denominator of the idle wishes of lay citizens for their community, a nebulous notion of a tree and bistro-lined sidewalk. Secondly, the logo oozes a unique Falls Church brand of arrogance that insists that somehow the whole world is expected to acknowledge that Falls Church is like nowhere else in creation.
That is contained in the phrase, “Rediscover Falls Church,” in the logo. Who ever discovered it in the first place, pray tell, besides those already here? Thus, in this phrase, the city is only talking to itself, and thereby is inwardly, not outwardly, directed. Moreover, presenting the vague drawing of a tree and bistro table implies this image is something unique to Falls Church. How many scenes are there like that in Falls Church, compared to how common they are in Shirlington, Alexandria, Georgetown, Upper Northwest D.C., Bethesda, Silver Spring, and the list goes on and on? How dare Falls Church presume it has a corner on an identity like that? How grossly out of touch with reality.