A new smiley face logo for the Porirua City Council cost ratepayers $98,000, an Official Information Act (OIA) response received by the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union confirms.
The logo, which the Taxpayers' Union is describing as a "limp and childlike smiley face", was unveiled in April.
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The union is questioning the value of the brand makeover. In a statement, the union said: "When Porirua ratepayers gaze long enough into the face, the council's five percent annual rate hikes gaze back".
"Councils do not need to engage in corporate branding exercises."
The statement continues: "Unlike businesses, councils are monopoly service providers and do not need to market themselves to their ratepayers, who are already a captive audience".
According to the OIA, the 'smiley face logo' is from a series of social media avatar files, which were designed and supplied to the council for $875.
But a spokeswoman said the council thinks the brand is "fantastic".
"Our previous brand was not cohesive and was applied in an ad hoc and inconsistent way across council services," she told Newshub.
"This was confusing and impacted on residents' ability to access services."
The council, in the OIA, said the full rebrand project began in January 2017. The rationale for the logo design was to reflect with the city's "youthful population".
One Facebook user questioned why the council needed to connect with youth.
"Youth don't pay rates," he said. "The council isn't their parents."
Others described the logo as "tragic" and "an insult".
But the council says it knew it was going to be a costly exercise.
"The $98,000 figure covers much more than just logo development," the spokeswoman said.
"It includes the full Porirua City rebrand which has been gradually rolled out as budgets allowed.
"The cost is typical for this type, quality and level of work."
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A breakdown of the rebrand:
- Strategy and brand development, and brand guidelines - $30,000
- design of collateral, print and electronic templates, animation stationery, advertising, banners, certificates, rates latter and assessments - $28,775
- brand architecture - $8,850
- photo library based on the new brand "look and feel" - $24,991
- update to brand guidelines - $5,260.