Royal Oak denies Meijer’s request to use city logo

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published May 28, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — The round orange Royal Oak city logo will not appear on an inside wall at Woodward Corner Market, the new grocery store concept by Meijer, at least for now.

In a 4-3 vote, the Royal Oak City Commission rejected the request from Meijer to use the city’s trademarked logo in the new store at Woodward Corners, located on the corner of Woodward Avenue and 13 Mile Road near Beaumont Hospital.

City Manager Don Johnson said the city has taken action to protect against the unauthorized use of the logo, issuing several cease and desist letters to businesses in the past, but that this is the first time an entity asked for permission.

Commissioner Patricia Paruch made the motion to deny.

“I just think it’s opening a can of worms that we’re going to be regretting down the road,” Paruch said. “Meijer is wonderful. I love the corporation. They have a great store. It’s just going to open the door to a number of other people who are going to want to use the logo.”

She said she had reservations about granting the request because, in the future, the choice would become discretionary on the part of the City Commission.

“A number of other businesses in the community, with very creative design, have gotten very close to our logo without going over the edge and borrowing it completely,” Paruch said. “I can think of a couple off the top of my head who shall remain nameless.”

Commissioner Melanie Macey agreed and suggested that Woodward Corners create its own logo, which could be displayed inside the market.

Mayor Pro Tem Sharlan Douglas raised the idea of setting licensing guidelines into place.

“I would like to see people doing imprints, T-shirts, tote bags, whatever in a way that generates revenue for the city and gets our brand out there,” Douglas said. 

Commissioner Kim Gibbs said she would also like to see licensing guidelines in terms of use of the city’s logo.

“This is the Meijer that I’m going to be using because it’s spitting distance from my house, and I would appreciate seeing the big orange RO in it, because that’s what’s close to my heart,” Gibbs said.

Commissioner Kyle DuBuc said he yearned to grant permission because he likes Meijer, but he might not know where to go with the next request.

“(With licensing guidelines), we have a real solid legal framework for how and when we say yes or no and why, and I think that would be worthwhile to have,” he said. “I think we can eventually find a way to allow our brand to be used that way. We just need to make sure we have that all tightened up.”

Paruch added that once the city approved licensing guidelines, Meijer could come back with the request to use the city’s logo.

On the other hand, Mayor Michael Fournier said he would rather grant the request, as well as implement licensing guidelines.

“(We created a new logo) for a reason: for our brand to get out there so people understand Royal Oak,” Fournier said. “Those 10,000 people a day that visit Beaumont Hospital are going to go to this grocery store, and I would love for them to see that Royal Oak logo.”

He said he thought it would be a “missed opportunity” to not allow the logo in the Woodward Corner Market, which unlike other Meijer stores will focus on a more artisanal feel. The first of its kind is called Bridge Street Market and is located in Grand Rapids.

“It’s not our city seal,” he said. “It (doesn’t go) out on letters or official correspondence. It’s something we created to underscore the amazing things we have going on here.”

He said he felt the co-branding opportunity and deciding who could use the logo would not always be “scientific.”

“Sometimes judgement calls are going to have to be made,” he said.

Paruch, Macey, Gibbs and DuBuc voted in favor of denying the request. Douglas, Fournier and Commissioner Randy LeVasseur voted against denying the request.

All commissioners unanimously voted in favor of a second motion, brought forth by Douglas, directing city staff to explore and present guidelines for licensing the Royal Oak brand and city logo.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.

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