Many logos represent Needham/ Credit: Mark Favermann

If you’re familiar with the iconic “I Love New York” logo, then you’re familiar with “place branding.” Using this approach, which seeks to project a positive and unified image of a location, Needham might soon have a brand of its own. 

Since November, the Needham Branding and Town Seal Committee has been meeting to come up with new designs and branding concepts for the town. Select Board member Kevin Keane, who is on the committee along with town officials, residents and a member of the Massachusetts Natick Praying Indians, said they anticipate new seal and branding proposals will be sent to Special Town Meeting in the fall.

To date, the committee has had extensive discussions about replacing the town seal, but recently the group turned its focus to branding. 

At the April 3 meeting, Mark Favermann, an urban designer with a specialty in community branding, led the committee through a series of brainstorming activities about taglines, images, colors and symbols that evoke the idea of Needham. Their answers filled multiple sheets of chart paper and included the July Fourth parade, old mill town, bedroom community, the High Rock and “where innovation meets tradition.” The committee will distill these words and images into a town seal and a town logo. 

“The seal is an official emblem that dates back to medieval times,” said Favermann, who has more that 45 years experience in design work for a wide variety of clients including the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Coolidge Corner Theater and the Boston Red Sox. “A seal has a lot of small writing on it while a logo is a lot cleaner and can be seen and understood from a distance. Urban branding reinforces identity and underscores uniqueness: Paris is romance, Athens is classical history, Hong Kong is trade. It’s about turning a location into a destination.”

Favermann was the design consultant for the town of Wellesley when it rebranded in 2016. The town chose its 1883 town hall framed by roses and daffodils and signage in commercial districts was thematically and visually coordinated.

“I’ve lived in the Boston area for 54 years and I’ve never known when I was in Needham,” said Favermann. He showed logos from 20 different Needham organizations, but there is no symbol that represents the whole town. 

“With branding, the town gets to speak twice,” said Keane. “There’s the official seal, and there’s something more energetic.” 

Originally funded by a state grant, this project was an early victim of the state’s falling revenues. When Gov. Maura Healey pared back this grant, Keane said they used ARPA funds to fill in.

Amy Haelsen, director of communications and community engagement, said the committee’s recommendations will be shared with the public for input prior to Town Meeting.

Keane said that the committee will narrow in on specific proposals by summer.

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