How Do You Brand A City? Tempe Launches Marketing Effort

Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - 5:13pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 19, 2016 - 5:17pm

Brands are all around us – from Nike to Coca Cola. But, does a city need a brand? Many of them are saying "yes."

Tempe’s City Council just approved a measure to award a contract to a marketing firm to help them brand their city. It started a few years ago with a request from some social media savvy members of Tempe’s City Council, according to Public Information Officer Nikki Ripley.

“The City Council came to us, and a few of them had wanted us to explore things like additional funds to apply toward Facebook boosting,” she said.

They brought in stakeholders and formed a subcommittee, she said. But, before spending money on social media, they decided to start at a foundation level.

“We wanted them, first, to be based on something real, to be based on research and real thinking and not just necessarily, us internally saying, ‘This is what we can spend money on,’” Ripley said.

The city put out a request for proposals for marketing firms who could help them do research to shape a brand for the city to direct their communication for the next decade, instead of the next few days.

Ripley said they want this marketing effort to serve multiple purposes because, unlike a consumer brand that can aim for a narrow audience, a city has to appeal to a much broader array of people, including residents, commuters and visitors, students, people who work there and companies who want to locate there.

One of the stakeholders they brought in was Dan Dillon, chief marketing officer for Arizona State University. He spent 30 years working in consumer packaged goods companies before coming to ASU and was the mastermind behind the Coke Zero campaign.

Dillon spoke about how branding a city isn’t entirely different from branding a product like Coca Cola.

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