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Covington campaign to go beyond a new logo
Covington could use an image makeover.
To that end, the city’s Economic Development Council (CEDC) is partnering with the Covington Chamber of Commerce to develop a brand which would help make the city more recognizable for those from outside the region.
Jeff Wagner, who is co-chair of CEDC in addition to his roles on the City Council and Chamber board, said the city has considered the idea of developing a new image for Covington for more than a year.
“We wanted a brand because cities around the country are changing their logos, coming up with a slogan, a brand,” Wagner said. “We wanted to come up with something like that because we wanted to help bring daytime traffic to our current businesses.”
Karla Slate, community relations coordinator for Covington, said some council members wanted to update the logo but others wanted to preserve it because it represents the city’s history — the logo depicts mountains in the background, trees and a 19th century era train in the foreground.
“The logo the city has is from 1997,” Wagner said. “It was a contest that the Chamber of Commerce held in back in 1997. We’re not trying to get rid of that. As we’ve talked with Karla and the Chamber, that could become our city seal. It’s a great logo but we need something more stylish.”
Covington’s slogan, “Unmatched quality of life,” will remain the underpinnings of the branding campaign.
Slate said CEDC decided to add the branding effort to its work plan.
“Covington is growing,” Slate said. “We did Destination Covington last year to really connect with developers and real estate agents. People didn’t recognize what Covington was through any kind of brand.”
A brand will allow the city to attract the kinds of businesses residents have told Covington staff they want, Slate said.
“We want to do what residents want, what businesses want to try and connect all those things together,” Slate said. “And to make the city stand out.”
Initially CEDC members tried to do as much of the work on their own as possible.
Wagner said the group realized it didn’t make any sense to “reinvent the wheel,” so they decided to bring Slate into the discussion.
Slate has an extensive background in marketing and public relations. So, she came in and started the process.
Thus far, Slate has gone through a branding exercise with CEDC, the City Council, the Chamber Board of Directors and department heads within the city.
The intent behind those workshops was to brainstorm with those people “because they’re the ones dealing with our target audiences, so they know what those target audiences want,” Slate said.
In those workshops they discussed who the target audiences are for a branding campaign, who the city is competing with for the attention of developers, and what do those groups want as well as what makes Covington unique, what sets it apart from other cities in the region and the country.
“We went out to talk to people about what they think, what they like about Covington, what draws them to Covington, some of their emotions,” Wagner said. “It’s a long process. It’s not something that happens overnight. You want it to look good and have it be a great experience so they can own it.”
Wagner noted that this branding campaign is still in its early phases.
At this point those who have worked on it have done so from a high altitude with the idea that they will begin to develop more specific ideas later on in what Wagner described as a five step process.
Step one is complete and the parties involved are preparing to move toward step two.
“The next step is compiling all of that information and analyzing it,” Slate said. “Then we’ll be able to develop an action plan based on that information.”
Slate said the plan is to get that analysis and action plan done in order to present it the City Council summit at the end of January. From that point, she said, staff will need some direction from the council before proceeding to the next step.
Eventually that will be used to develop a brand identity for the city, something other cities in the area such as Renton and Auburn have done in recent years.
Unlike other cities, which have spent thousands of dollars, Covington has tried to not spend any money on this effort yet by bringing it all in house and through partnerships.
Slate said the city has had to let people know that this branding campaign is not just about designing a new logo.
“Communities that are successful in doing that are successful in brining in additional revenue streams and businesses,” she said. “If we’re able to show them our image and brand, we’ll be more successful in bringing in the businesses residents want.”
It will be important, as Wagner noted, for the community to buy into the brand.
Slate said in order to do that the city and the chamber will need to engage residents and business owners to make sure the community will get behind the new brand.
In the end, developing a brand for Covington is about supporting businesses in the city, Wagner said.
“It all goes back to hopefully this is an avenue that we can use to bring more awareness to the city of Covington and help create more daytime traffic for our businesses,” Wagner said. “It’s about helping our businesses survive and thrive.”