Two boats, minus one boat, plus one boat, minus one boat equals the City of Minneapolis’ new logo.

The Minneapolis City Council has changed its course, again, in what has become a month-long discussion over updating the city’s logo.

Over four meetings and a total of an hour and 15 minutes of debate, the council and its committees first voted twice to approve a new logo featuring a single sailboat, rather than the city’s current two-sailboat logo. Then, council members reversed that move and opted to keep the old logo. 

Wednesday, in a committee meeting that includes the full council, the vote was reversed again. 

Work to update the logo, which was first introduced in the 1970s, began more than a year ago. City officials first planned to spruce up official letterhead and business cards and then decided it was time to create across-the-board standards for the lettering and logo that represents the city on signs, vehicles and equipment. 

A team led by the city’s communications director designed a new logo, which replaced the decades-old, two-boat logo with a more modern single sailboat. That plan passed muster in two committees -- including the one that voted again Wednesday -- before it was halted in a March 22 council meeting. 

In that discussion, some council members worried residents would get confused by dueling boat icons in the years it would take to update all of the city property marked with the current design. The council voted 10-3 to move forward with a formal graphics standard, but to stick with the old logo. 

That was the plan until Wednesday, when officials came back to the council with a series of problems.

Communications director Matt Laible showed the council a few samples of a revamped logo featuring new colors and fonts but the same old boats. He said the old icon is difficult to reproduce because it features thin lines. 

Laible told the council it would take four to six weeks to redesign the logo for a second time, while departments wait to make purchases that will need to be stamped with the sailboat symbol.

Council Member Andrew Johnson, who had called for maintaining the two-boat logo, said he was confused about why the city staff members working on the logo had not followed the council’s earlier direction. He wondered why another re-do would take more than a month, and showed the council a few samples he’d worked up himself.

“That took me 10 minutes to put together,” he said.

Other council members disagreed. Council Member Elizabeth Glidden said the old logo seems difficult to replicate and not worth more effort.

“I am challenged about thinking of how we’re going to go through this process again and spend more staff time, which is city cost and city money,” she said.

Council Member Jacob Frey said he feared seeing the logo debate turning into a “long, drawn-out” conversation, or “spending undue either time or money on this issue, which I want, really, nothing to do with.”

As a committee, the council voted to go ahead with the new, single-boat logo. The council is scheduled to take another — presumably final — vote on the issue Friday.