A nationally known Seattle firm will design a new King County logo using an image of Noble Peace Prize winner and slain civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Through a jury selection process, Gable Design Group came out ahead of a field of 29 local and out-of-state companies, the largest response ever received by King County for a design contract.
The proposal includes subcontracts with longtime Gable associates Vivian Phillips and Sharon Maeda for outreach.
King County's cultural service provider, 4Culture, managed the selection process.
"Dr. King is revered around the world for his intellect, courage and leadership," said King County Executive Ron Sims. "The gold crown logo was a simple representation of the word 'king.' Now that we are officially named after Dr. King, we will soon have a logo reflecting the values and ethics of an extraordinary person, just as Seattle and Washington state have logos of the extraordinary individuals they were named after."
Gov. Christine Gregoire signed legislation officially changing the county's name to Martin Luther King Junior County earlier this year. Shortly after, the Metropolitan King County Council voted to change the logo from a gold crown to an image of the Rev. King. To minimize costs of the change, the county will transition to the new logo when reordering supplies or replacing equipment or signage.
"The people of King County will be honored to finally have a logo that reflects the image of Dr. King," said King County Councilor Larry Gossett, who sponsored the legislation to change the logo.
"It is a continuation of the work that was begun in 1986 when the county's namesake was changed to honor Dr. King. I am confident that the team chosen to design King County's new logo will bring forth a logo that will reflect the intent of the council's legislation and Dr. King's commitment to peace and justice," Gossett said.
Sims agreed that the change is timely.
"Logos are powerful symbols that help brand every business and organization," Sims said. "Our county has changed dramatically since it was founded in 1853 so it is time we update our symbol and transition to an image that reflects the values of our citizens and government."
Gable Design Group was founded in 1985 by Tony Gable, a multi-discipline artist. The design selection committee said it was impressed with his experience, diverse design work, knowledge of the community and passion for the project. The selection panel said the team put together by Gable for the project has a strong understanding of this project's history and its importance for King County.
"I am honored to be selected to help make this momentous change to a symbol that celebrates that man and the feelings of the people of King County," Gable said. "My team, including senior designer Nancy Mitsui Frederick and designer Alan Jennings, will strive to design a logo with clarity and longevity that is a powerful symbol that reflects the values of the people and government of our county.
"My beliefs were shaped by the civil rights movement and other injustices from our time." Gable said. "I never dreamed I would be tapped for such a historic assignment."
Gable and his business have received numerous awards, including Seattle's Media Inc.'s Design Person of the Year; the mayor's Small Business Award; and the Gold Compass Award from the Art Institute of Seattle, recognizing Gable's history of mentoring art students. Gable is a member of the HOW Magazine Advisory Board, Tabor 100, the PNW/Recording Academy and a former board member of the Seattle Chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Gable is to present three design options to a committee that includes Executive Sims and other elected leaders in December. A final design will be selected by next Jan. 17, the national holiday honoring the Rev. King's birthday.
A variation of a crown has been used as the county's emblem since it was named after Vice President William Rufus Devane King, a slave owner from Alabama who died shortly after taking office. It is believed that the name was chosen as a way to flatter President Franklin Pierce's administration as the Washington Territory sought statehood. The current gold crown logo has been used for about 20 years.
In 1986, Sims and former Councilor Bruce Laing co-sponsored the legislation that changed the county's name to Martin Luther King Jr. County. The change needed state approval, which was granted just last winter, prompting the council to approve legislation sponsored by Gossett to change the logo to reflect the county's namesake.