Is the new Enterprise Florida branding sexist?

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From the state which brought you the boring license plate now comes the sexist economic development brand…

Governor Rick Scott and Enterprise Florida, the state’s chief economic development agency, unveiled the logo Thursday at an Enterprise Florida board meeting in Tallahassee.

It’s part of a branding campaign aimed at getting all of the state’s economic development agencies to speak with a single message.

But the new branding effort is going over like a turd in a punchbowl.

“As a female business owner I am shocked and disappointed the only visual representation in the Enterprise Florida logo is a man’s tie,” says Colleen Chappell, president and CEO of Tampa branding and marketing firm ChappellRoberts. Chappell said the symbol of male business attire sends the wrong message to woman working in the state, and those who many consider moving their companies here.

Chappel’s quotes are part of a column from Tampa Bay Business Journal staffer Mark Holan, who seems to be getting the same reaction from the women he’s interviewing as the one I received from my wife after she took a look at  Enterprise Florida’s new branding logo, which shows a men’s necktie as the “i” in “Florida.”

Another prominent local businesswoman taken aback by Enterprise Florida’s effort is Susan Stackhouse, CEO of Stellar Partners Inc., a Tampa airport retail concessionaire. “It’s clearly a strong visual that business and men go together.”

Chappell and Stackhouse are absolutely right that the first conclusion one reaches when seeing a tie is a reference to men. 

But I’ll go a step further and point out just how silly it is to connect a tie with the tagline “The Perfect Climate for Business.” When folks think about Florida’s climate, they think of it as environment where the ties are coming off and the Tommy Bahamas and flowing dresses are being worn well before casual Friday. Why muddle that welcoming image with a stodgy tie? 

It’s not surprising that this new brand was created by a firm in Tennessee because whoever designed it doesn’t seem to know much about the Sunshine State — or women.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.