The city of Chandler, Arizona’s Parks and Recreation Divisions recently navigated through the challenging and exciting process of rebranding with a new logo and tagline. Although the logo had gone through a few updates, the tagline hadn’t changed in more than 20 years. The city learned several important lessons during this process, namely knowing when it’s time for a change, what to consider before taking the plunge and how to successfully launch the new brand.
Time to Change
Considering one of the most common synonyms for parks and recreation is play, the city’s former tagline of “Come Out and Play Chandler” was a natural fit. Chandler Parks and Recreation believes in the power of play, but agencies today offer so much more than just play to their communities.
Noted economist and park and recreation enthusiast Dr. Lowell Catlett spoke at the 2012 NRPA Congress. The underlying theme of his remarks spoke to the impact park and recreation services have on a community. This resonated with Chandler staff and moved them to action.
In the 20-plus years since the tagline was first introduced, Chandler’s population more than doubled, changing its landscape. The time had come to establish a tagline that expressed the lifecycle of parks and recreation, spoke to the residents and was relatable across the board no matter an individual’s age, race, or socioeconomic standing.
Things to Consider Before Taking the Plunge
Upper Management. Have conversations with the appropriate managers and directors early on about staff intentions and reasoning for wanting to rebrand. It’s important to have their support and for them to feel like they are part of the process.
Internal vs. Hiring a Company. Decide if this undertaking is going to happen using resources within the organization or if funds will be allocated to hire an outside company. On paper, it may appear cheaper to have staff work through the process and do the project internally, but at what cost? Are other projects that staff are working on OK to move to the back burner? Will staff members be able to look at the project objectively and remove themselves and their biases from the process?
Rebranding can be an expensive and lengthy process. Be prepared to not only budget financial resources to update all necessary items, but staff time as well. Assign a project manager to take ownership and ensure the project stays on track, within budget and on deadline.
It’s OK, Even Important to be Picky!
After serious thought and consideration, Chandler decided to hire an outside organization. Requests for proposals were sent to local branding companies; a small committee reviewed the responses and interviewed two firms for consideration. Once Chandler’s partner, Creative Brand Consulting (CBC), was selected, an exploratory meeting with them, as well as representatives from all areas of parks and recreation, was held to establish a base level of understanding about the services Chandler offers. From there, the committee dialed back to six members meeting regularly with CBC.
CBC then went to their drawing boards, drafted, and worked through more than 100 tagline and logo directions. They presented 25 options to the core team for consideration before the committee selected the final direction. CBC then worked that one logo option dozens of times, changing colors, fonts and icons ever so slightly before selecting:
How to Successfully Launch the Agency’s New Brand
Get Staff Buy-In. Staff will serve as your primary brand ambassadors interacting directly with the public. Prior to unveiling the new logo to the public, introduce it to staff, creating excitement and buzz from within.
Organization. Develop a launch plan and strategy prior to making any major changes or purchases. Take inventory of every item/location where the current logo and tagline is, and determine what measures need to be taken in order to update those items. Work closely with staff to take advantage of every free or low-cost opportunity available within and outside the organization to promote the new brand.
Consistency. Establish brand standards and share them with everyone. A logo visually distinguishes an organization as a unique identity. When projected consistently, it becomes immediately recognizable and associated with that organization’s services and facilities. To achieve maximum impact from a logo, it is imperative that no modifications or alterations be made to any of its parts. Any variation from the authorized logo will dilute the effectiveness of the brand identity.
This undertaking is a marathon, not a sprint! Careful planning and organization is imperative to the overall success of implanting a new logo and tagline.
Brooke Peterson is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the City of Chandler, Arizona.