Slogan captures essence of city
Paper Clips series - 2001: New identityCHRIS HYDE
In lock-up meetings throughout 2001, a new identity for Palmerston North was created. As part of the Paper Clips series, Chris Hyde talks to the two men who chaired the group that came up with it and asks whether it has worked.
The main roads into Palmerston North are dotted with warning signs for drivers but there's one on each that is welcoming.
The signs are designed to sum up Palmerston North in four words: "Young Heart, Easy Living".
Twelve years on from the hype, the closed-door arguments and the $40,000 budget that came with finding an identity better than "Rose City" and "Knowledge City", Tim Mordaunt and Simon Barnett still recite what they decided on with pride.
"The words are true. The fact that it has stuck around is a testament to that," Mr Barnett says.
"I came from a branding background and in terms of New Zealand cities' identities ‘Absolutely, Positively Wellington' and ‘Young Heart, Easy Living' are the only ones I can see lasting decades."
Mr Barnett, founder of OBO, and Mr Mordaunt, of Property Brokers fame, co-chaired an 11-person regional identity team which spent three months discussing the identity before the big unveiling at a ceremony at the Regent on Broadway in November 2001.
The spark for the change was a council-initiated "lock-up" of 50 local people who spent a day throwing ideas around.
"It came out of the belief - maybe naively - that if you put 50 local people in one room you'll discover the essence, what made this place special," Mr Barnett says.
"We ended up hanging our heads on a lot of ideas and then there was the suggestion that a small group be formed.
"From there we basically tried to make it as big an impact as we could on the small budget we had at the time," he says.
The Manawatu Standard and other local media covered the launch and reaction extensively.
There was much hoo-ha about the initial logo to go with the slogan - a square with nine circles inside it representing nine "core values" of the region.
Eventually in 2005 the logo was dropped in favour of a mellow green and white, with wind turbines repositioned as the city's icon.
But the slogan survives, and that is a testament to the research they did on it, Mr Mordaunt says.
"Young Heart" refers to the city's student and army populations which made Palmerston North the youngest city per capita in New Zealand in 2001. There's also a nod to Maori culture with the use of heart - manawa means heart and Manawatu means heart standing still.
But it was putting "Easy Living" into the slogan that was the easiest, Mr Mordaunt says.
"We talked to a lot people from different clubs and the "Easy Living" was the obvious part because everyone was telling us [that] it's five minutes to get to anything.
"Overall, it ticked a lot of boxes. Before that it was Rose City or Knowledge City and those were never going to be able to be used forever, whereas this one, it has legs."
Mr Barnett says the discussions about the identity brought several different sectors together and the city is still reaping the rewards of that.
But he believes the public sector never capitalised on the initial publicity the identity received.
"This was launched to the city just before the election and then straight after there was a change of mayor and council. It made embedding the idea of it all the more difficult.
"As a city I think we missed an opportunity to really drive home that this is our slogan, that we are an easier place to live and at our core we have a young heart."
Mr Barnett says he remains proud of the slogan and wants to see it used more in descriptions of the city.
"We captured the essence of this place and we gave people the permission to say ‘this is the place, this is what it's like to live here', to revel in the joy of youth.
"In that way, it works. For a long time there, we were always apologising about being from Palmy. You don't hear that any more."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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