The City Commission heard a status report on the City’s branding effort at a workshop on Tuesday, September 23. The purpose of the effort is to attract continued economic development to the City and maintain a strong sense of community pride.
“Our branding effort is not focused on t-shirts, balloons or coffee cups,” City Manager Michael S. Levinson said. “It has everything to do with return on investment for the benefit of our taxpayers and the betterment of our community. Branding enables us to market our competitive advantages for economic development purposes.”
The branding effort is an important part of the City’s business outreach agenda. “The more successful we are at economic development, the less we have to rely upon our residential taxpayers to foot the bill for City services,” Levinson said. Economic development has helped the City maintain the lowest tax rate in the region for full-service cities with a population over 70,000.
Within the City, the effort addresses challenges around maintaining a strong sense of community among an increasingly diverse population, as well as keeping taxpayer costs low in a tight economic climate. City staff discussed how branding could further enhance the bond with residents, promoting volunteerism and community involvement that avoids costs and helps maintain the highest quality services while keeping property taxes low.
To determine its brand identity for marketing purposes, staff examined important community strong points such as the City’s low crime rate, AAA credit rating, A-rated schools and numerous performance awards. Also taken into consideration was the City’s recent receipt of the presidential Malcolm Baldrige award for performance excellence. The outcome of this process was adopting the “Community of Excellence” brand.
Moving forward, in partnership with the Economic Development Foundation (EDF), staff will develop prospectus materials that tell the City’s unique story and outline the advantages of operating in a Baldrige community. “No other city in the nation has been validated by the Baldrige Award,” Mayor Scott J. Brook said. “Using Baldrige as one element of our overall marketing efforts allows us to promote our City as the location of first resort for both residents and businesses.” “It makes perfect dollars and sense,” added Levinson.
The City invested approximately $2,500 in early 2008 to allow an outside agency to create a framework for its branding initiative. Since that time, branding efforts have been handled by the City in order to maximize return on investment.