New North Dakota logo not so legendary, critics insist

Where did North Dakota go to find a logo and slogan to capture its essence? Minnesota.

It hired a woman in Hawley, Minn., to design the logo for $9,500, too small of an expenditure to go through a competitive bidding process, the Fargo Forum says. And that’s rubbing people the wrong way.

Kara Ellefson, who has extensive experience in marketing, came up with the logo to “unify” all the state’s agencies under a single brand.

Other North Dakota marketing experts, however, think the logo stinks, and signed a petition and called it “an uninspiring leap backwards,” the Forum says.

Jordan Loftis, a Bismarck marketing and public relations writer with a background in design, wrote the letter and attended the meetings on behalf of concerned creative professionals who signed the petition.

As far as Loftis is concerned, the problem isn’t what the logo cost, or the fact that the job went to a Minnesota firm, although he was not happy that no local designer “got a shot” at the logo project.

“Honestly, for the amount of money this is, I don’t think it was any nefariousness,” he said. “It was just expediency,” a desire to move quickly.

“If the logo was good and she was from Texas, nobody would care,” he added. Loftis’ objection is that the logo is amateurish and ineffective, although he said the brand strategy behind the logo is sound.

The upshot of the meetings, Loftis said: “We were basically met with, well, we’re rolling this out. We can agree to disagree.”

“A lot of people really felt that our North Dakota artists should have had a chance to do this logo,” said Rep. Marvin Nelson, D-Rolla, who has sponsored a bill for a statewide logo contest. “It seemed to come out of the governor’s office, but I don’t know. All of a sudden it was there. I didn’t like the process. There was no request for proposals.”

The prize money for the winner was slashed from $95,000 in Nelson’s bill to $9,500, the same amount the Minnesota woman was paid.

Related: Minnesota finds its new tourism campaign in ‘True North’ (Pioneer Press)