An Auckland regional TV station is talking about legal action over the Auckland City Council's new triangle logo.
The logo has sparked controversy today after the New Zealand Herald revealed that it could have cost considerably more than the reported $25,000 - possibly as much as $1 million all up, according to one council source.
Gone is the City of Sails, represented by two yachts against a backdrop of Rangitoto alongside the words "Auckland City" on a dark-blue background.
The new logo features a triangle in three tones of blue and introduces the word "council" to identify Auckland City as an organisation, not a place.
But the logo bears similarities to that of Auckland regional TV station, Triangle TV.
Triangle's CEO Jim Blackman said today it had contacted a patent attorney to discuss legal issues around the symbol.
He said the phone had been running hot at the station today with callers inquiring whether the City Council had entered the regional TV market.
Mr Blackman said that Auckland City had never contacted him over the logo, which Triangle has used for around a decade.
The logo was devised by Auckland City chief executive David Rankin and his executive team over the past year. Only a handful of senior councillors were privy to it. It was never put to a council committee and the 45 or so staff in the communications and marketing department were sworn to secrecy.
Concerns about a lack of recognition the council was getting for its services and weaknesses with the present logo - such as being barely legible at a distance and missing the "council" word - were among the reasons for developing a new one.
The executive team gave the go-ahead for the logo on October 2 and kept it under wraps until after the local body elections.
Organisation performance general manager Trish Langridge said the executive team were aware the new logo could become redundant in three years if the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Auckland abolished the Auckland City Council.
"We live in a world of uncertainty. If we wait for certainty, we would never make any decisions or do anything."
She said the council planned to roll out the new logo over the next couple of years as things such as stationery and signs came up for replacement. The rollout would happen without wasting ratepayers' money. But she would not give an assurance the council would not replace perfectly good signage with the new logo.
The council has already replaced banners made in the past year for the $43.5 million Queen St upgrade for banners with the new logo costing $700 each.
A senior council source, who did not want to be named, said legions of officers had been involved in the logo project for about a year.
"It has been a hugely complex and expensive piece of work," the source said. "I'd be surprised if the cost was less than $1 million in terms of resources, officer hours, market research and testing. Then there is all the existing branding material lying around the place that is going to become superfluous."
Until now, the council has only given a $25,000 figure for the design and production of the logo.
New Mayor John Banks said the project was another "obituary spend" from the previous council and he would never have embarked on such a spend-up.
He liked the logo, but not the cost. It was presented to the new council last week as a fait accompli and looked to be here to stay. "The challenge now is to have a rollout that is sensible and affordable."
Mr Banks said the new council was going to do a "line-by-line" review of council spending.
Auckland brand strategist Brian Richards questioned the need for a new logo when impending change was possible.
"If you phase something in progressively over two years all you will do is confuse people," he said.
If it was a matter of the word "council" it could have been possible to add the word to the existing logo at less cost.
"The trouble being a council is they are trying to be awfully cautious because it is ratepayers' money so they kind of wimp around the thing."
Councillor Cathy Casey said the logo was a waste of ratepayers' money and should be the top of Mr Banks' review of council spending.
"It's a triangle. What does it say? I don't know."