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‘The Chief’ to remain official seal of Ottawa County

By Jordan Climie/The Holland Sentinel • Apr 4, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Ottawa County will get a new look this year, thanks to an effort by the county to rebrand itself for the future.

The current seal is that of “The Chief,” a Native American image in headdress. The problem? The headdress is different in the seals used by different departments around the county. A committee is looking to make an official, standard look.

“The Chief is our seal and it will always be our seal, so we’re not looking to change that,” said County Administrator Al Vanderberg at the Thursday, March 30, County Board of Commissioners meeting. “We’re not just talking about our logo, we want to design something looking forward, not just back.”

Ottawa County courts currently use a silver beaver as their seal on official documents, and Vanderberg said they will be able to continue to use that.

The project has been spearheaded by County Communications Manager Shannon Felgner.

“Our logo is more than just our visual identity,” she said, adding that Ottawa County is a strong and healthy community with a government that’s trustworthy and a place people can feel safe. “Our visual identity doesn’t necessarily reflect that.”

Felgner also said she isn’t sure when the current seal was introduced, but “over the course of the years, there’s never been policy guidelines to govern how to use that seal.”

Felgner said the brand of Ottawa County currently appears scattered and unpolished, and it’s important to have a good visual identity to attract talent to the area.

District 5 Commissioner Mike Haverdink questioned the need for a logo change.

“It’s really a fuzzy area for our county,” he said. “People aren’t going to look at our logo and say, ‘I want to move to Ottawa County.’”

But he did say if a rebranding would make current residents and county employees happy, it’s worth it.

District 4 Commissioner Al Dannenberg asked if there would be any negative reaction from Michigan’s Ottawa Indian Tribes.

“The only pushback we’ve received is ‘The Chief’ headdress isn’t Ottawa Indian authentic,” Felgner said.

According to Felgner, the process will take place over the next few months, with a branding advisory team coming together that includes commissioners Frank Garcia and Kelly Kuiper, along with others from various county departments. This team will include an array of ethnicities and represent both men and women. This summer, the team will present “a few” options to the Board of Commissioners for approval.

When the change happens, it will be a slow process.

“We won’t print everyone new business cards right away,” Felgner said.

Vanderberg praised Felgner for her work on this issue.

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