How much is an ampersand worth? (You know, that funny-looking "&" symbol.)
That question remains unanswered. But thanks to the Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections, we now know a plus sign ("+") is worth $50,000.
That's how much the city's often-embattled department formerly known as L&I paid a public relations firm last year to come up with a rebranding: L&I is now L+I.
With little fanfare last spring, the department dropped the ampersand for a plus sign, touted in a report as "a new logo and tagline that will begin to change the image of L+I. L+I wishes to bring a friendlier, softer face to the Department while maintaining integrity and passion to ensure that codes are being met."
The updated logo infuses the new plus sign with four colors, giving it the look of a pinwheel.
Commissioner Carlton Williams said the department began using L+I instead of L&I on many of its informational material and documents in May 2013, just one month before the Market Street building collapse that killed six people that continues to cause turmoil within Licenses and Inspections.
He said the city paid $50,000 to LevLane, a Philadelphia-based advertising and public relations firm, for a "departmental re-branding project." On their website, LevLane touts itself as having "more municipal partners than the mayor himself." Its City Hall clients also include the Streets Department and the Philadelphia Recycling Office.
"The strategies of the media plan are to build awareness for L + I and to educate the public on the essential steps required for any home repair or other construction project," Williams said in an email.
He said public safety is also a key component of the new branding and added that he has received some input from the public about the new look.
"I have received a few direct comments," Williams said. "However, the new brand and logo was all a part of a broader strategy to encourage the public to use our services and to become our partners in building safety."
Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.