BISBEE – The ruckus began in earnest Tuesday as the county began displaying the new logo developed and approved by the Cochise County Tourism and Economic Council on its website and other online materials.
The members of CCTEC are the city managers of Sierra Vista, Douglas, Benson, Bisbee and Willcox and the Cochise County administrator.
By Wednesday morning, online petitions were being circulated on social media and a majority of the posts were negative, saying the change was done behind their backs and they wanted a say in how the county was to be represented.
Supervisor Peggy Judd began getting emails and phone calls Tuesday from constituents who demanded the county stop using the new logo of colored wavy lines which they felt did not reflect the history and respect of the county named for Apache Chief Cochise.
Judd told the Herald/Review Thursday she was extremely upset the supervisors were not given the opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed change in a setting where public comments could be made or at least followed by the public through a virtual meeting.
According to Judd, Amanda Baillie, county public information officer, approached each supervisor individually. Judd was not aware the logo would not go before the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Ann English recalled asking that the supervisors be kept informed of the progress on the new logo, meant to be used for marketing, in a work session two years ago.
“I have always felt the supervisors needed to be involved an any decision affecting the county,” she said. “We knew the new logo was being designed, but we had and have no intentions of replacing Chief Cochise. Amanda showed me the three selections the council had picked and I thought, well, it’s just for marketing. I’m always skeptical of rebranding and people thinking it will do something more.”
The overwhelming pushback by citizens and the blaming of the supervisors for the decision was unexpected, she added.
“I didn’t know there would be this much of an uproar,” English said. “It’s so overblown and there are so many negative statements. Social media causes a lot of misinformation to be shared.”
The idea that Chief Cochise was being replaced quickly spread, even though that was not the case, as Baillie pointed out in a press release late Wednesday. She said that Chief Cochise would always have a prominent place in the county. He would remain on the seal and on other county materials as a respected part of its history.
In a Thursday interview, Baillie said she did speak with each supervisor and each gave their approval of the new logos. In a slow rollout, they were placed on the county’s Facebook page June 29 and “there was no negative feedback. I have no idea what happened. But then there was a lot of misinformation on social media. People thought we were getting rid of Chief Cochise. That is not the case. Everyone will still see him on a regular basis.”
Baillie explained that after the contract was awarded to the Pat Davis Design Group of California, one of eight proposals submitted, company representatives went into the county to meet the CCTEC members and certain stakeholders within the members’ communities. They wanted to find out what people loved about Cochise County. The information the company gathered was developed into the new logos.
At the June 4 CCTEC meeting, members Theresa Coleman, Bisbee; Ed Gilligan, county administrator; Jerene Watson, Douglas; Chuck Potucek, Sierra Vista; and Vicki Vivian, Benson, unanimously approved two, according to the meeting minutes.
“The new modern and vibrant look captures many elements of Cochise County through its colors — copper (mining/sunsets), turquoise (Bisbee blue/skies), merlot (Willcox wine country) and dark skies blue (night skies/stargazing). The graphic element represents the mountains, river and creeks, the sun/moon, cool breezes and open spaces. It’s also the shape of the county,” Baillie said.
Residents do not see the image as imagined by the logo.
Waylan Lane began a petition on Change.org at: https://www.change.org/p/cochise-county-community-rebranding-of-cochise-county-logo and already has more than 4,300 signatures.
Signers say it is “confusing,” “disrespectful,” “ridiculous” and “just plain wrong.”
Lina Weaver said she signed the petition because, “Changing the logo is ridiculous and it was completed in the worst way possible. I don’t believe that the voters here would have agreed to the change and to outsource it to an out-of-state source was wrong. It should have been advertised and voters should have had a right to vote on this change. They couldn’t have even kept the funds in Arizona either. Shame on them.”
Troy Haymore wrote in regard to Chief Cochise, “We are honoring a man for his strength, tenacity and perseverance. The county is named after him to honor him.”
Deborah Burns lamented, “Sadly, Arizona is slowly losing its rich uniqueness and character to the progressive big-city sameness. Our Old West culture is what draws tourists and settlers to this beautiful city. As you modernize the iconic symbols that speak of our amazing history and pride, you sink us into forgettable sameness of every other city and lessen the draw of people wanting to visit this area. Traditional icons should be treasured, not erased.”
As Baillie noted, governments and businesses across the country and the world follow the same process. Changes do not go to voters.
“It’s final,” she said of the logo decision. “I hope people get used to it. People will still see Cochise on our website and letterhead.”
Supervisor Tom Borer said he did not have a strong feeling on the logos at first, but then “really liked the Explore Cochise logo” and noted the other “really catches the eye. It jumps off the page at you and invites you to look into Cochise County.”
He was surprised by the backlash, but remembered the rollout of Sierra Vista’s “Extraordinary Skies, Uncommon Ground” branding and the citizen complaints.
“I’m surprised the reaction got so volatile, so quickly.” Borer said. “They are just convinced we’re getting rid of Cochise. He is our history and I like him on our seal. I have him sewn on my shirts.”
“Three, five or 10 years down the road things change. We have to stay competitive. We’ll hang with it and see what happens. We’re never going to get 125,000 people to agree. But, it’s just a marketing tool.”
Though the timing of the rollout may have been inopportune as ethnic images are being challenged across the country, Chief Cochise will remain at the heart of the county, the supervisors promised.
The new branding will be phased in over at least two years to ensure the transition is as cost-effective as possible. Residents will also see the brand used on the county’s website, social media, newsletter and through other public outreach mediums.