Salem’s new official logo and slogan were unveiled this week at the annual meeting of Destination Salem, the city’s Office of Tourism and Cultural Affairs. For some time–at least decades and probably a century–there has been an ongoing debate and dialogue among Salem officials, business owners and residents over the marketing of the city, with the central contentious issue being how much emphasis should be placed on the witch trials relative to Salem’s other history. It seems to me that the advocates for a witchcraft-focused civic identity won the debate long ago (after all, Salem is “Witch City”; we have witches on our police cars and our high-school sports teams are called witches), yet it continues and the designers of the new logo were apparently trying to craft a bilateral, flexible image. I see only a witch hat, but the (completely unscientific) survey I conducted with my students yielded mixed results: about two-thirds saw the hat, and a third a sail(boat). Quite a few students made the interesting comment that people outside of our region would only see a witch’s hat, because that is the image that they expect to see associated with Salem.
Is it a witch’s hat or a sailboat?