Please see the following. My goal is to raise $100,000 in the next 30 days for a Richmond Branding and Marketing Study. If we can get ten donors at $10,000 each, that will meet our goal.
Please let me know if you or your company – or companies that are part of your organization -- are willing to be a partner in this critical project.
Creating a Brand
March 7, 2015
For years, the City of Richmond has been trying to establish an enhanced image and an identity that will change old perceptions and be more attractive to potential visitors, residents, business relocations, investors and developers.
Previous efforts have bogged down in politics and lack of funding, but both the need and opportunities are greater than ever. The Bay Area is experiencing an economic boom that is outpacing both the U.S. and the State of California, but Richmond has been largely passed over. We need to marshal our resources, leverage our assets and sell Richmond.
To expedite this effort and to avoid the politics that have scuttled previous efforts, I propose to lead this effort from the mayor’s Office, supported by $100,000 in donations from the private sector.
In 2009, City staff set out to find ways to improve Richmond’s image and released an RFP for a consultant to assist. Ultimately, a consulting firm called North Star was recommended to the City Council. The June 2, 2009, staff report stated:
In 2007, only 4% of the Richmond Community Survey respondents viewed Richmond’s image or reputation as “good” or “excellent”. In 2009, that percentage only increased by 2 percentage points. This 6% response remains the lowest ranking of any Richmond community characteristic. In January 2009, the City distributed a request for proposal (RFP) for consulting services to engage the community in developing a brand that would communicate the Richmond story more effectively, and staff is requesting approval to enter into a contract based on this RFP.
On June 2, 2009, the City Council voted 4-0-3 to retain North Star at a cost of $87,000. The Minutes read:
In the matter to approve a consulting services agreement with North Star in an amount not to exceed $87,000 to facilitate a community process to identify the City of Richmond's unique brand and develop creative tools such as a new logo, strapline, graphic standards, and messages for use by the community. Janet Schneider, Administrative Chief, gave an overview of the matter. Following discussion, a motion was made by Councilmember Butt, seconded by Councilmember Ritterman, approved the agreement, by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmember Bates, Butt, Ritterman, and Mayor McLaughlin. Noes: None. Abstentions: Councilmembers Rogers, Viramontes, and Vice Mayor Lopez. Absent: None.
Two days later, in a Thursday morning talk show, KGO’s Brian Copeland spent an hour trashing Richmond and encouraging even reluctant callers to do likewise. Copeland’s theme was questioning why a city with “the highest murder rate in California” should be spending $87,000 on a branding campaign. Brian argued, “Richmond city leaders will spend up to $87,000 to develop a new logo and message intended to boost the city's image. Could the money be better spent? Is there a better way to enhance Richmond's image?”
Apparently, several City Council members found Copeland’s cynicism compelling and contracted buyer’s remorse. On June 16, Bates led a successful motion to reconsider on a 5-2 vote.
In the matter to reconsider a consulting service agreement with North Star; and if reconsideration granted, and approve a consulting service agreement with North Star in an amount not to exceed $87,000 to facilitate a community process to identify the City of Richmond's unique brand and develop creative tools such as a new logo, strapline, graphic standards, and messages for use by the community. Following discussion, a motion was made by Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Rogers to reconsider. The motion passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Rogers, Viramontes, Vice Mayor Lopez, and Mayor McLaughlin. Noes: Councilmembers Butt and Ritterman. Abstentions: None. Absent: None. A motion was made by Councilmember Butt to approve the item. The motion failed for lack of a second. A motion was made by Councilmember Bates, seconded by Councilmember Viramontes to delay the item for further study and evaluation. Jackie Thompson, Corky Booze, and Michelle Itagaki gave comments. The city clerk announced the time was 12:33 a.m. and a vote was needed to extend. On motion of Councilmember Rogers, seconded by Councilmember Viramontes extended the meeting for 25 minutes with Councilmembers Butt, Ritterman, and Vice Mayor Lopez voting Noe. Following discussion, the motion to delay passed by the following vote: Ayes: Councilmembers Bates, Rogers, Viramontes, Vice Mayor Lopez, and Mayor McLaughlin. Noes: Councilmember Butt and Ritterman. Abstentions: None. Absent: None.
Richmond’s effort to reconstruct its image died and remained dormant for the next three years.
Following the Chevron fire and attendant publicity of 2012, thoughts of reviving that image once again surfaced. Chevron representatives offered to pay for a branding and marketing study, including a hefty sum for implementation – perhaps as much as $500,000. On March 19, 2013, the City Council voted to restart the process:
The matter to authorize the city manager to solicit proposals and begin the planning process for a branding, marketing and implementation study for Richmond was presented by Councilmembers Butt and Rogers. Bea Roberson gave comments. On motion of Councilmember Butt, seconded by Councilmember Rogers authorized the city manager to solicit proposals and begin the planning process for a branding, marketing and implementation study for Richmond by Chevron by the unanimous vote of the City Council.
Talk of suing Chevron over damages from the 2012 fire began to surface soon after, and in August of 2013, the lawsuit was filed. Concurrently, Chevron’s offer to fund the branding and marketing study also, understandably, fell off the table.
During negotiations for the benefits agreement accompanying the Chevron Modernization Project in the summer of 2014, funding for a branding and marketing study was once again in the mix, but it lost out to other councilmembers’ priorities.
When I was sworn in as mayor on January 13, 2015, revival of a branding and marking study became one of my priorities as an essential part of attracting businesses, jobs, investment, visitors and residents to Richmond.
A “City of Richmond Marketing Plan” was created by the Social Sector Solutions (S3) project of the UC Berkeley Haas Business School MBA program, completed in 2013. They worked closely with City staff on the project that described in detail the need, content and approach for a branding and marketing plan but did not go so far as to actually included such a plan. The Executive Summary stated:
The City of Richmond has recently been catapulted into conversations about bioscience and regional development, spurred by the selection of the University of California (UC) Richmond Field Station as the preferred site for the second campus of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Many in Richmond are hopeful that the Richmond Bay Campus (RBC) can be used as a catalyst to create broader opportunities for the City of Richmond, including local job creation through lab spin-offs and business relocation.
Indeed, there is great potential here; Richmond has an abundance of marketable assets, is already home to many prominent, innovative companies, like Sunpower, Heliodyne, and the City is generally perceived as being more business-friendly than its neighbors Berkeley, Emeryville or even Oakland. However, Richmond also must overcome liabilities of the negative reputation that has been ingrained in its brand for over 50 years.
Leveraging the prestige of LBNL will certainly help boost Richmond’s brand image, but LBNL and the RBC alone will not be enough to transform Richmond. The City recognizes the need for a targeted and dedicated branding and marketing effort to successfully revitalize its reputation and image. Richmond is committed to establishing a formal marketing program and has set a long-term vision to be nationally recognized for a thriving bioscience, green and clean technology, and health business cluster.
One of the biggest challenges that the City of Richmond will encounter is regaining control of its image, which historically has been dictated by negative media and press. Prior to fully implementing the recommendations outlined in this marketing plan, the City should take into great consideration how the function of marketing should operate and be managed. A dedicated and centralized effort to controlling the accuracy, consistency and frequency of the City’s marketing program will be most effective in reshaping the City’s image.
This marketing plan includes an overview of our research, an analysis of Richmond’s current environment, illuminates strategic priorities for the city, and delves into a plan of action that the City can realistically implement given its limited budget and resources. Our recommendations focus on a marketing and communications strategy that support and enhance the supply chain model, and include broader recommendations to help the City of Richmond attract new businesses and grow its business cluster. This marketing strategy aims to answer the following questions:
1. Market Segmentation: What are the target segments for the City of Richmond and what are the key messages that should be delivered to each segment?
2. Market Awareness: How can the City of Richmond drive awareness to each segment and what channels can be used?
3. Key Partnerships: What key partnerships should the City of Richmond develop to support its re-branding goal?
The strategies and recommendations captured in this report will lay the foundation for a rich marketing program to expand and mature. We hope that by implementing these recommendations and committing to an ongoing and agile marketing and branding effort, the City of Richmond will be well positioned to realize its long-term vision.
Social Sector Solutions (S3) also authored The Richmond Bay Campus Report Strategic Business Plan and Marketing Strategy Positioning Richmond for Success.
I think we need about $100,000 to complete a first phase of a branding and marketing strategy. I want to get this going. I sense the City does not have the money, and even if we did, I am afraid that the process would bog down and ultimately collapse in politics like it did last time.
My plan is to do this through the mayor’s office to expedite it and avoid the politics, using $100,000 in donations from mainly businesses and deposit the funds with the Richmond Community Foundation as the financial agent. Donors would advise in the final selection of the consultant, but the final work product would be based on broad public input.
The scope would roughly include but not be limited to:
- Using surveys, interviews and focus groups, determine the regional perception of Richmond, particularly by target audiences such as potential residents, potential developers, potential investors, potential businesses and potential visitors. How do they think of Richmond as a place to live, work, do business, recreate and seek culture?
- Using similar means, determine the perception of Richmond by people who are already living, working, investing, developing or visiting. The semi-annual Richmond surveys can be a useful tool.
- Using charrettes, focus groups and community meetings, determine how we want to shift our image and how we can accomplish that.
- Design a plan to establish a brand for Richmond based on our history, our unique characteristics, our aspirations and – reality.
- Design a plan to market Richmond.
Mayor Tom Butt
450 Civic Center Plaza
Richmond, CA 94804
Tom Butt Political Website: http://www.tombutt.com/
Board member and past chair, Local Government Commission
Alternate member, BCDC
Alternate member, Contra Costa LAFCO
Member, League of California Cities, Environmental Quality Policy Committee
Member, West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee (WCCTAC)
Commissioner, Contra Costa Transportation Authority
Board Member, Richmond Representative, Vice-chair, MCE (Marin Clean Energy)
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