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Chicken-Fried News: Branding backlash

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INGVARD ASHBY
  • Ingvard Ashby

The discourse in the state to last week’s announcement of Oklahoma’s new logo and branding initiative quickly turned from apathetic to outrage, which prompted change on the state’s branding website.

At first, the reaction to the colorful star logo — with a white star surrounded by five colors meant to represent the state’s ecological diversity — was met with a predictable “It looks like clip art,” but it escalated.

It turns out the white star in the center of the logo might be representative of a whitewashing of the state’s indigenous people’s that was careless at best and malicious at worst. The branding.ok.gov website included the passage, “This is a place that was built from scratch, made by people who gave up everything to come here from all over the world to create something for themselves and their families. … We started this place with a land run in 1889 — and honestly, we’re still running, still making, still pioneering.”

Yikes! That “We” is doing a lot of work and is a bit of an unintentional mask-off moment. The website was edited to include the phrase “this is a place that was built from scratch, starting with indigenous cultures that learned how to survive and thrive in changing conditions.”

Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell — who led the branding initiative — released a statement that said the “specific paragraph was not inclusive of Oklahoma’s rich Native American heritage and was not in line with other brand elements that did embrace indigenous cultures.”

It is unclear what “brand elements” Pinnell is referring to. A control F search of The Oklahoman’s story about the brand launch does not return a match for the terms “native” or “indigenous.”

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