A somewhat positive development: the city commission is showing some cautious decision-making, if not outright contrition. At their Monday meeting, the commission decided not to decide on the recommendations from Paulsen Marketing on a new positioning line for the city. Commissioner Mark Stadel didn’t offer KJAM news any great insight into the reasons for the commission’s hesitance other than to indicate that the commission wants to take time to get some public input.
Public input? Holy cow—are they really going to ask us what we think of the slogans dreamed up by Paulsen? Perhaps the city should have asked the public to start with, before they spent $2500 on some rather underwhelming results.
The commission’s delay is telling. We’re not talking about a major budgetary decision here; the money has already been spent. Could the commissioners be catching a lot of grief, not just from this writer, but from the morning coffee crowd they meet when they stroll downtown? Madisonites eager not to be branded with silly slogans can only hope (and holler, whenever the commission gets around to asking our opinions). At the very least, the commission apparently feels a need to put a gloss of public input on the matter, so in the future, when visitors to our fair city are greeted by cheesy banners with grossly uncreative declarations on them, the city leaders can say they don’t bear full responsibility but sought public input on such foolishness.
It’s too bad the commission couldn’t have sought public input earlier in this image-tweaking process. They might have saved the city several thousand dollars by seeking and following some homegrown advice. If branding is about creating a unique, authentic image, then the best results will come from our own people. Why let an outside marketer define who we are? An outside marketer will produce similar slogans and other recommendations for community branding to every community he works for, based on his own worldview and principles formed in Advertising 101 at university. Let a town come up with its own ideas, and that town will generate slogans and other such decorations that more truly reflect the character of that town.
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