‘Apple Capital’ signing off: City's new welcome art has its fans and critics
By Jay Patrick
World staff writer
Sunday - November 12, 2006
WENATCHEE -- Wenatchee will no longer be billed as the "Apple Capital of the World" to people rolling into town.
The venerable welcome-to-Wenatchee sign sporting the esteemed slogan is coming down, signaling a change in how the city presents itself to outsiders and, for some residents, reflecting an evolution in the way they think about their home.
Call it a sign of the times.
New sculpted monuments went in Thursday, depicting the surrounding mountains and valleys and bearing the words "Wenatchee. Meeting Rivers. Meeting Friends. Meeting Needs."
"It sounds more like an outreach program than a city," said Shana Munch, one of many Wenatchee residents who responded by e-mail to a Wenatchee World survey.
"This new (slogan) is too New Age touchy feely. (It) leaves me feeling like a phony," said Ben Knecht of Wenatchee.
Some said they felt a sense of loss at the 30-year-old "Apple Capital" sign coming down.
Others said the nickname is worn out and that it's high time for a change, especially since Wenatchee has lost the bulk of its orchards in recent years.
"I'm happy the 'Apple Capital' stuff is going away. All things considered Wenatchee is so much more," said Richard Thody of Wenatchee. "The rock carvings look right on target -- real nice, real descriptive. Kudos to the designer."
The designer is Coeur d'Alene artist Dave Clemons, who came up with the slogan. Suzanne Gladsjo of Wenatchee applauds his work.
"I like the new slogan," Gladsjo said. "I think it depicts what our valley stands for and what it should continue to stand for -- unity."
Kris Bassett, the city's director of historic preservation and arts, said she doesn't see reason for any fuss about the "Apple Capital" sign going away.
"It's just a billboard," she said. "This town deserves more than a billboard."
She said the new art is classy. "I think it's something everyone can identify with."
The city OK'd the welcome art project more than two years ago, expecting that work would be done by November 2005. Clemons also missed a deadline set for spring of this year. He said his studio was too cold to work with some materials. The project's price went up from $50,000 to $83,348, due to rising costs of materials, according to Clemons.
Cities across America are pouring money and time into developing new identities in order to capture tourist and business dollars, said Eric Schwartz, a city tagline expert based in San Mateo, Calif. Washington recently rolled out its "SayWA" slogan, which cost $200,000 to develop and was scrapped weeks after being introduced because of harsh public criticism. Seattle just branded itself "Metronatural."
"You want something indicative of who you are, not what someone else is," Schwartz said, explaining that bad mottos are those playing off common themes. "I would say look harder, identify your values, vision, and history. The key to effective branding is to embrace an appealing slogan that promises an experience that can't be duplicated anywhere else."
Roger Clute, executive director of the Wenatchee Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau, thinks that's exactly what the "Apple Capital" moniker does. Clute says he is OK with the new slogan but added that it lacks "sizzle."
"To me, Wenatchee will always be the 'Apple Capital of the World' because it is the historic and iconic symbol of the place we live," Clute said. "Tradition is a strong defender of a known brand. 'Apple Capital' creates an emotionally positive response from local residents and visitors alike."
Schwartz said that mottos can make huge differences for cities' images and in turn, their fates in the municipal marketplace.
"It should be succinct, positive, original, and memorable. It should be believable but it can also aspire to be something bigger and greater. When conceived correctly, it can reflect a city's style and personality, leverage its assets, and communicate a compelling message," Schwartz wrote in an article titled "Jumping on the Bandwagon: How to Give Your City a Motto Makeover in 10 Easy Steps" published this year by the American Marketing Association. "Think of it as urban renewal without having to pass a bond measure," Schwartz wrote.
His take on Wenatchee's "Meeting Rivers. Meeting Needs. Meeting Friends:" it's too long and a bit vague regarding the meeting needs part. On the spot he came up with "Where rivers meet. And friendship flows."
Chelan City Councilman Skip Morehouse commends Wenatchee leaders for trying to "reidentify the broad spectrum offered to our area."
"Several of us (in Chelan) have wanted to change our logo to get the apple out," Morehouse said. Chelan's logo is a transparent apple framing
an image of Lake Chelan. Morehouse said the effort to change has met resistance.
Pat Oldham and James Zanol, both of Wenatchee, take up the other side.
"The new one looks like debris from a rock fall. Altogether a waste of public funds," Zanol said.
Oldham called the new slogan ridiculous.
"It sounds like something a bunch of flower children sat around dreaming up. Or a theme for a junior high school dance -- sappy, simplistic."
For Molly Stere, who lives in Seattle but is building a house in Malaga, the motto hits the mark.
"The slogan represents the very reason we're moving to the Wenatchee area. As much as I am saddened to see more and more orchards pulled out, I am excited about the future of Wenatchee and its new role as the burgeoning 'spokescity' of central Washington," Stere said.
The "Apple Capital" sign will be taken down within the next week.
Jay Patrick can be reached at 664-7155 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Other Washington city nicknames and slogans
Seattle: Official nickname is the “Emerald City,” the result of a contest by a civic-minded association in the early 1980s to designate a pleasant nickname for the city. The name alludes to the lush evergreen trees in the surrounding area. Informally known as the Rainy City (also Rain City), the Gateway to Alaska, Queen City, and Jet City. “Metronatural,” the new tourism slogan, is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Spokane: Its newest motto is “Near Nature, Near Perfect.” Another oft-repeated description of the city is “the second largest city between Minneapolis and Tokyo.”
Yakima: In the 1950s the city marketed itself as “The Fruit Bowl of the Nation.” A highway sign that reads “Welcome to Yakima: The Palm Springs of Washington” is not an official city slogan and the sign is privately owned. The nickname is a reference to Yakima’s climate, one of the hottest regions of Washington state.
Walla Walla: Its slogan is “The City Was So Nice They Named It Twice.” Sources: Taglineguru.com, wikipedia.org, seattlepi.nwsource.com and wsm.wsu.edu
Northwest city slogans
Here is a sample of slogans of small to mid-size cities in the Northwest:
Quincy: Opportunities Unlimited
Bellingham: Let Us Surprise You
Entiat: Come to live. Come to visit. You are always welcome.
Colville: Wild Turkey Capital of the Pacific Northwest
Woodinville: Country living, City style
Tri-Cities: The Heart of Washington’s Wine Country
Longview: Experience it all in Longview
Pocatello, Idaho: Gateway to the Northwest
Nampa, Idaho: People Place
Pendleton, Ore.: Where the real West lives
Salem, Ore.: The Cherry City
Sources: usacitiesonline.com, city Web sites