The Middleburg Town Council on Nov. 25 decided almost unanimously to use the image of a horse jumping over a stone wall as the town’s new logo, rather than an image of a fox—the animal that has represented the town on its seal and other marketing materials since the early 1900s.
The change comes amid the town’s rebranding initiative, which the Red Thinking branding and digital marketing firm is leading under a $40,000 contract.
Mayor Bridge Littleton, an eighth-generation Middleburg resident, defended the horse design because it showed movement and expression of activity, action and fun. He said the fox logo was sterile and that the animal already was included in the town seal, which, he said, would never change.
Town Administrator Danny Davis pointed out that the Middleburg Business and Professional Association already dubs the town as the nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital. But, as Davis emphasized, the new horse-themed logo would represent only a piece of the overall branding project.
Some council members still fought for the fox.
One of those was Vice Mayor Darlene Kirk, a second-generation council member who has served on the Town Council since 2002. She said the horse isn’t synonymous with Middleburg.
“I think to not have [the fox] … is just wrong,” she said. “I don’t support [the horse] as the logo.”
When Kirk asked how much of a business the equestrian industry really represents in town, claiming that the only places to ride were at the Salamander Resort or on one of a few private farms, Councilman Peter Leonard-Morgan, who supported the horse design, said there are “dozens and dozens of stables all around Middleburg.” Littleton also pointed out that most residents and visitors attend horse races, not fox hunts.
Also initially in favor of the fox was Councilwoman Cindy Pearson, who said that, while the town has always associated itself with the fox, she would be willing to support the horse if Red Thinking designed the horse to look more like one that would be found in town. Littleton said the in the proposed logo did look “origami-ish,” referencing three cuts, or gaps, in the horse’s body.
While Councilman Kevin Daly also initially supported the fox, claiming that horses represent an elitist culture, but eventually changed his mind and supported the horse design.
Newly appointed CouncilmanBud Jacobs countered Daly, noting that fox hunting was actually more elitist and that the equine industry is more important to the town.
Also supporting the horse was Councilman Philip Miller, who said the horse image showed motion and was aspirational and alluring for new visitors. He said that while there will be opportunities to include a fox image with the horse in different iterations of the new logo, the town is already crowded with fox designs.
He said there are 37 different foxes images in the town, including the one associated with The Red Fox Inn & Tavern, the National Sporting Library & Museum and the signs attached to light poles that direct visitors to shopping and dining destinations. “We’re foxed out, we are saturated with foxes,” he said.
In addition to those expressions of the fox in town, the Artists in Middleburg nonprofit is set to unveil a six-foot-long, $30,000 bronze red fox sculpture on the steps of the Middleburg Community Center this Saturday, Dec. 7.
Councilman Chris Bernard was more on the fence in his decision. He said he would like to see a design depicting a fox, rather than a horse, jumping over the stone wall.
Davis and Miller are collecting feedback from the Town Council to forward to Red Thinking PresidentShay Carson Onorio, who will then make a few tweaks on the design. Davis said he expects the branding project to begin “making a splash” in early 2020, when the town unveils the first pieces of it all, including a finalized logo and tag line.
The town’s branding initiative began in April 2018, when Native Collaboration was hired to perform the task. Town staffers and council members expected the project to help boost the town’s economy by bringing in more visitors. They expected it to wrap up by the end of 2018.
But in April this year, the town broke off with Native Collaboration after spending$26,000 of the allocated $65,000 project budget. The town solicited responses from new design firms and hired Red Thinking this past summer.