Nike has the swoosh, Target has the bull's-eye, and soon Anne Arundel County government will have a you-know-you-want-to-work-here logo of its own.
At least that's the aim of a design contest that the county has launched to find an image that brands the county government as an attractive career option.
County Executive John R. Leopold, who more than 30 years ago dabbled in abstract expressionist oil painting, said the effort will also be an opportunity for an artist to "participate in an artistic adventure."
"I've always enjoyed mixing the two worlds of arts and politics, and this will energize our cultural devotees," he said. "And it adds spice and zest to the county."
The logo will be used on county brochures and will be used for job recruitment at career fairs, said Tricia Hopkins, an assistant personnel officer.
"We want to provide some county name recognition that is quick and easy and grabbing," she said, adding that the county is taking it cue from corporate America. "We are trying to communicate who we are and what we represent ... so that people will consider Anne Arundel County government as an employer of choice."
The county government has a work force of about 6,000 people, with about 350 vacancies, and the base expansion at Fort Meade is expected to create additional jobs as the need for services expands.
The military base realignment and closure process will bring an estimated 22,000 federal government and private-sector jobs to Anne Arundel within the next seven years.
A different and imaginative logo could make a difference for job hunters, Leopold said, pointing to his own red campaign yard signs, reading simply "Leopold," as an effective branding tool. He has used a variation of the sign throughout much of his local political career, during which he has lost one race in 25 years.
"If you have a consistent logo, it can sometimes be more powerful than all the verbiage," he said.
Yet Bob Burdon, president and chief executive officer of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, questioned the need for an additional symbol.
"The county seal is who we are, the county flag is who we are, and, quite frankly, the county has done very well with current symbols," he said. "The county has to make sure that they aren't compromising the current brand and creating confusion."
Logo designs, which must be received by May 31, will be judged on clarity of message and originality and should be bold enough for different formats. A winner will be chosen from the finalists in the student, citizen and employee categories.
Leopold, who once traded a still life for a three-piece suit, offered some artist-to-artist advice.
"I'd just urge them to think about what the county represents," he said. "It's the heartbeat of the defense industry and new intelligence network ... so maybe try to capture the county's pivotal role in state and nation."
For more information and submission guidelines, visit www.aacounty.org.