DUNEDIN — The city's proposed new logo wraps several of Dunedin's most-beloved gems into one: A side-turned osprey whose tail fans out to meet its head and create a heart.
Stripes on the bird's body represent the Pinellas Trail and water. Alternating shades of blue and green reflect the natural colors of the environment and hint at the area's coastal setting. The word "Dunedin" appears in all caps.
The logo is offset with the tagline: "Home of Honeymoon Island," and below that, in italics, "We'll steal your heart."
In addition to capturing several elements residents say they love most about Dunedin, advertising officials who unveiled the proposed logo and slogan to the City Commission and public Thursday say the new image conjures up warm feelings that are sure to draw visitors nationwide and abroad.
"When someone steals your heart, you're captivated by them. Puppies steal your heart, little babies steal your heart, someone who bakes you warm chocolate chip cookies steals your heart," said Margaret Wilesmith, founder of the West Palm Beach-based Wilesmith Advertising/Design. "Someone who steals your heart is someone to love."
City leaders last year embarked on the $73,000 branding campaign in hopes of increasing visitor and business traffic, which they hope also translates into more employment opportunities, a higher tax base and more revenue to spend on residents.
Once approved, businesses and the city's government will be able to gradually incorporate the unified branding theme into items such as T-shirts, Dunedin's website and city equipment, visitor guides and the next batch of letterhead.
Funding for the branding project came from Community Redevelopment Agency reserves ($23,000), vacant position savings ($34,150) and Visit Dunedin ($16,000).
Wilesmith's firm spent months surveying and interviewing residents and visitors about Dunedin's greatest assets. She said the logo unveiled Thursday was chosen out of about 17 presented to a focus group of merchants, city officials and other stakeholders.
Honeymoon Island consistently ranked as a top attraction among visitors and residents, making it a great selling point.
"Even if they didn't know Dunedin, they knew Honeymoon Island," Wilesmith said. "It's extremely lucky in that it has such a magical name. It sounds like a wonderful place to be. To have a differentiator that no other city in the world can claim is really a jewel."
The firm also played a video Thursday showcasing an alternative tagline, "Dun Our Way," which they said can be paired with almost any event and might help outsiders pronounce the city's name. They passed out buttons on which the heart-shaped osprey was paired with a red letter I to create the slogan, "I heart Dunedin."
The ad agency's work is only "60 percent" done. The firm, along with City Manager Rob DiSpirito and Dunedin economic development director Bob Ironsmith, will publicly seek feedback in coming weeks during meetings with the Dunedin chamber, major employers, small and large businesses, and several citizen-advisory and nonprofit groups.
The City Commission is expected to take a final vote in late February or early March.
Once approved, Wilesmith will provide a manual with guidelines for using the logo and creating a marketing plan. They'll also launch a more user-friendly domain name, dunedinfl.com.
Gabriella Mullins of Dunedin's Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites was among the merchants, residents and commissioners at Thursday's meeting who said they support the proposed brand.
"How many times do we see pictures of Caladesi and Honeymoon on other people's magazines, issues, advertising, marketing, and nowhere on there do they ever put Dunedin?" she asked. "So I think it's a wonderful step in the right direction and we need to grow with where we're going."
Chatter on Dunedin's Facebook page, on the other hand, showed a mixed public reaction Friday. Some folks loved the logo while others found the font and colors too "corporate" looking and disliked the connotation of the word "steal" in the tagline. Many believed the logo should instead focus on — or at least include — the city's Scottish heritage rather than Honeymoon Island.
Mayor Dave Eggers said "playing off of the island and the birds and the island, which is a key part of our city" is a clever idea. He also said he liked the "subtle" logo mixed with the "bold" tagline promising that folks who visit will have a good time.
"So many people love 'Delightful Dunedin' and this really captures that. It doesn't do away with that concept," he said.
Keyonna Summers can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 445-4153. To write a letter to the editor, go to tampabay.com/letters.