Marketing The Unmarketable

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Want to make a fortune selling your service? Get invited to the next conference of County Managers or City Managers.

Just sat through a mandatory half-hour meeting “on re-branding.” It’s the latest bandwagon for local governments. There’s even a handbook.

Ramsey County is changing its logo. The County Board already spent $100,000 on design consultants and just hired a Communications Director to help implement the re-brand.

Instead of this:

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We’ll have this:

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You notice we got a lot of bang for our $100,000 bucks. The font is new and a soft grey. The entity name is all caps, with the subsidiary office below in contrasting color. And the color has changed: we’re going to a less alarming color of red. Burgundy and Grey, very 80’s.

Not right away, of course. We’ll use up existing stocks of business cards and letterhead. Public works trucks will change logos as they are replaced. The signs outside our buildings probably will last a decade or longer. It’s a “iterative rebranding,” not a radical abrupt change.

Having different brands now is confusing to the public, which is why we must rebrand. But rather than spend a ton of money to clear up the confusion, we’ll leave the confusing brands in place to leave the public confused as we gradually switch over to the new brand, to make things less confusing.

As a mid-level bureaucrat, I don’t order letterhead, buy business cards or paint signs; I use what management gives me. What I want to know is: how do I code that half-hour meeting on my Time and Productivity Report? “Complete Waste” does not appear to be an option.

Joe Doakes

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