In a few words and images, cities try to sum up their history and reason for being in the designs that can appear on everything from police cars to water towers.
A city logo would seem to be a simple thing: A decal on the side of a police car, a giant symbol on a water tower, an emblem used on uniforms and stationery.
But considerable thought goes into some of those logos, with cities angling to promote their "brand" in a single image. While some logos are simple -- Maple Grove uses a maple leaf, and Mound's sailboat was created by students in a design competition -- others are trying to communicate a whole range of attributes.
In Bloomington, Edina, Plymouth and Eden Prairie, the logos were designed to convey dynamism or boldness or to pay tribute to history. They were planned right down to the exact color tone: in Edina's case, Pantone 347 Green -- the same shade of green used in the Irish flag.
Here's the story of the logos of some west metro cities.
The blue-and-gold logo shows a cityscape framed by the Minnesota River, with residential and business structures and trees that are meant to convey "the city's unique balance of nature and established community" along with natural habitats and parklands, according to Janine Hill, city communications coordinator.
She said the city's brand essence is "stable, dynamic, open and nature in balance."
Some people think the logo's swoopy base -- the river -- looks like a bird, in particular a kingfisher. The 2003 logo "turned out to be a little more dynamic than we planned," Hill said. But the coincidence is a happy one, she said, further promoting the idea of balance in nature.
The green-and-white logo is one of the oldest in the west metro, dating from the city's 1988 centennial. The center is a four-leaf clover, with each quadrant focusing on history: an "e" for Edinborough, Scotland, which gave the city its name; a thistle to represent the city's Scottish history; a clover leaf for the city's Irish roots; and a mill for the building around which the city was built.
The biggest city logo is on the Gleason water tower. In 2011, it was painted with a 30-foot-wide city logo.
The sleek bird in flight replaced a chubby robin and was adopted in 1997 to indicate a "city on the move." Though the city is named after 19th century businessman and state senator A.B. Robbins, the robin was adopted by the city after it was used by businesses and the old Robbinsdale High School. Because the school colors were blue and gold, the bird is in the logo is usually blue, but sometimes yellow, black and white are used.
Perhaps because robins make a meek mascot for today's high school teams, the city's two high schools use the Falcons and the Hawks.
One unusual use of the city logo is by residents who call themselves "the birdtown group." Their shirts have the city bird on the front and the slogan, "It's better in birdtown" on the back.
The city's unusual logo features a church topped by a cross, a salute to the St. Victoria Church, which was key to the city's founding. In 1856, after years of disagreement, families located on opposite sides of Lake Bavaria agreed to build a church on 30 acres of land donated by people on one side of the lake and named it after St. Victoria, a favored saint among families on the lake's other side. From there sprang a church and school and later the city of Victoria, which was incorporated in 1915. The current city logo dates from 2006.
Yellow and orange in the city's logo "represents the vibrancy of Eden Prairie and provide a striking contrast to the bold confidence exhibited by the black," the city says. The logo, introduced in 2005, was designed to "evoke a stable, vibrant, family-oriented community that values its natural beauty, diversity and heritage."
The city's bold blue "P" represents the city's lakes, streams and wetlands, while the green stands for parks and open space. The plant symbolizes a commitment to the environment. The gear indicates a stable, diverse economic base.
The city has used some form of this logo for more than 30 years, last tweaking the design about eight years ago.
The city's brawny black "H" with a red raspberry at its center dates from 1986 and pays tribute to Hopkins' status as the Raspberry Capital of the world. In the last century, the city was full of raspberry farms that shipped fruit by rail to as far away as Chicago. The city's annual Raspberry Festival dates from 1935 and has become one of the biggest community celebrations in the metro area.
"Chanhassen" is Dakota for "tree with sweet sap" or "sugar maple," so the city has a maple leaf as its logo. The green leaf was selected to reflect the tree's natural color, and purple lettering was chosen because it went well with the green. This logo dates from about 1995. It was created by designer Deb Kind, who now is the mayor of Greenwood.
The city's logo, brand-new this year, depicts the Carver's historic water tower, circa-1900, which is still standing and is believed to be the oldest railroad water tower that is still in its original location. The blue ripple depicts the city's relationship to the Minnesota River.
The logo of a sailboat with hovering bird was created by students in a design competition and signifies the boating life on Lake Minnetonka.
The cattails in the city's 1996 logo stand for the city's natural setting. The teal reflects the color that was used as an accent in the Minnetonka Community Center and City Hall.
The city's current logo featuring an autumn maple leaf dates from 1985. The image is tied to the extensive maple trees throughout the city and represents the vast timber area, City Manager Al Madsen said. The motto, "Serving today, shaping tomorrow," was added to the logo in 1985 to reflect the city's development.
Tom Meersman and Kelly Smith contributed to this article. Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380 • Twitter: @smetan