A Complete Breakdown of COMO’s Re-Branding Effort

Well, complete might be a strong word, but here are some thoughts on the logo, slogan, use of COMO, and – of course – that commercial. All of which were officially released unleashed this week. After COMO’s last re-branding fiasco several years ago, it’s what we’ve come to unexpect… er… or should it be expect? I don’t know. Here’s the semi-complete breakdown promised.

The new COMO Logo

To be honest, this doesn’t bother me all that much. Yes, the aping of the CMYK color model and is a bit played out at this point and it does remind me of a mall, but it’s at least better and a bit more modern than that awful curly-cue logo we had before this re-brand. It’s a little clean, sterile even and corporate, but it will do.

The Slogan: What You Unexpect

You read that right. A city that features three colleges/universities has a made-up word for a slogan. Instead of going with something more conventional like, say, “Not What You Expect”, some genius took the city’s money and made up a word. Shakespeare would have been proud. Of course, the irony is not just limited to poor grammar representing such an educated community. There’s further irony in the fact that Columbia, Missouri is pretty much what you expect from a Midwestern college town. I know that there are people who hate this limiting image for COMO, but the fact is that this town lives and dies by the University of Missouri. The downtown – which is the cornerstone of this ad campaign – is typical Midwestern college town. Columbia is exactly what we expect. So, I’ve taken it upon myself to re-brand the re-branding. below. What do you think?


One thing the re-branders did get right is the use of “COMO” as the official abbreviation. Those of us on Twitter have been using the #COMO hashtag for years and have advocated for its official use by the city for nearly as long. The COMO brand should grow from here. It’s short, to the point, easily identifiable, provides a nicely squared logo… It’s perfect!

The Ad

To fully understand the ad, I would like to break down the narrative a bit for you before you watch the entire video.

A guy and girl sit in some unidentifiable cafe or coffee shop downtown as all theseunexpected things take place as they are wrapped up in their digital media, completely oblivious to all the great things going on in COMO. This encapsulates COMO’s identity crisis. We want to be known for something, anything, but no one thinks anything goes on here unless they’re really paying attention.

Also of note: What’s wrong with the dude? He appears to either be texting or playing some sort of video game while holding back an overwhelming urge to use the bathroom. Just in case you were wondering, there are plenty of clean toilets in Columbia which he could use. There’s no need for the facial contortions or wiggling about like a three-year-old just out of diapers.

A person in a gorilla suit makes a first appearance. Funny enough, this is a rather regular occurrence in this town. This is either due to a high rate of gorilla costumes per capita or somebody who works for the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau (the re-branders responsible for all of this) regularly wears a gorilla costume because that’s “his thing.” Either way, this won’t be the last time you’ll see a gorilla in the ad and we don’t even have a zoo.

That gorilla continues to hog the screen as a large dog in a pink tutu and some ballet dancers walk by. I realize that we are home to the Missouri Contemporary Ballet Company, but are we also known for dog ballet?

It’s nice to see the COMO Derby Dames get some screen time. However, instead of spinning by, why couldn’t they have body-checked the gorilla?

A dude walks by with a growler from Flat Branch and acknowledges someone rolling by with a barrel. A BARREL!?! Where does one score a barrel of beer in this town? I need some of that!

A lady with shopping bags passes under a canoe. Pretty typical. Tots expected.

A chef accepts some produce from a farmer (presumably from the old west) as a guy in a banana suit passes by. I get the chef/farmer thing. A lot of our restaurants get their food from local farmers and our farmer’s markets are vast in a town surrounded by nothing but meth fields and farmland. However, the banana suit has me puzzled. Is this part of the gorilla narrative?

A busker playing guitar wanders past as the gorilla seems to have stolen the roller skates off the Derby Dames and is speeding away.

For some reason, a guy on a unicycle waves to a group of kids as one child in a fedora strolls by. Totally unexpected.

One of the kids who practices jousting every Wednesday evening in Peace Park makes an appearance. This is only unexpected in that it happened on a Thursday.

A car drives through the spot. Did they unexpect this?

The girl finishes her phone call and the guy is suddenly calm, even relieved. Whatever was causing him to dance around like a fool has suddenly been allayed.

And there’s the logo again, but this time it is next to Missouri’s own fancy logo. The use of rainbow colors in each threatens Midwestern values with its gay agenda. Nice.

Now that I’ve broken it down for you, watch the ad in its entirety.

What do you think of COMO’s re-branding? Do you like the logo, slogan, and commercial? Was it worth the money they spent? (We assume this amount to be slightly higher than the $45k spent the last time around.) Would you change any of it? Did you unexpect it? Would it have been more efficient to just do a flash mob or some sort of Harlem Shuffle on the other side of the glass in the video? Have I asked too many questions? Do you even care?

Share your feelings on the COMO re-branding in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #WhatYouUnexpect.


  1. I’m disappointed in the price tag for an ad with terrible audio and graphics at the end. Did you see the new logo flash up full but fades before your brain registers what you’re looking at before the dual CoMO/Missouri logos? I’m mainly disappointed in the use of a fake word. For a town known for its journalism school with a rigorous grammar test, a fake word kills me. Which marketing groups in town worked on this? I’m dying to know.

  2. Joy Mayer says:

    Zac, the conversation last week was really, really funny. Here’s the Missourian’s roundup: http://www.columbiamissourian.com/a/160519/storify-what-did-you-expect-online-reaction-to-columbias-new-marketing-slogan/

    Thanks for your contributions!

    Joy Mayer, director of community outreach, Columbia Missourian

  3. Sleazer says:

    Before I read this… I made such similar comments! The banana is being chased by the gorilla, btw, but you weren’t expecting that joke, AMIRITE?!

    Seriously, though, I’ve lived here for 13 years, and what this commercial said to me was “hey, don’t leave your office; there’s a bunch of people in weird costumes downtown.”

    We have 3 colleges, several (small) museums of various types, the Missouri Theatre, go-go dancing troupes, fire spinners, a civic orchestra, big names showing up at concerts (at venues or open air), an arcade (again!), local breweries, art galleries, CoMo specific entities (Sparky’s? Couldn’t get a dog in a t-shirt? I could round one up right now, and I don’t have $45k), recognizable public radio personalities, a skate rink, some nice parks, I hear there’s a dog park or two somewhere, and all kinds of stuff I am not thinking of, I’m sure… but seeing any of it for a fleeting second (thank you for the breakdown, btw!) registers 0 things to an audience. You know the little details, because you live here, but if someone is trying to get people to come check out things here… Easter eggs are pointless.

    I love the Dames, though, and was thrilled to see them :) 1 thing right out of however many: I expected that.

    CoMo: Half-Assery is Not Only Welcome, But Rewarded.

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