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Local experts say Wauwatosa needs more contemporary image

Aug. 13, 2014

A fresh brand and marketing push recommended by a local team of experts could bring Wauwatosa new residents and businesses, but it comes with a potential price tag of around $100,000 for a professional plan and ongoing costs for a part-time position.

The ad hoc marketing and communications committee, which presented its proposal July 29 to the Community Development Committee, is made up of city staff, aldermen, and professionals in marketing, design, real estate and business.

While the CDC signed off on the group's first recommended step, to make the committee permanent, some CDC members were more skeptical of the steps that demanded money and asked that those be reviewed by the Budget and Finance Committee.

"Government is not a business and we can't do some of things businesses can do to raise revenue," Alderwoman Cheryl Berdan said, noting state caps on raising taxes. "I'd like to support it but I'm just scared of going for that money."

Others were ready to support the full package and send out a request for proposals from professional marketers.

Alderwoman Allison Byrne said she thought the city would reap more than enough money from the results of marketing to pay for the services by attracting development that would increase the tax base.

"I would like us to be much more proactive with the business we pull into Wauwatosa as opposed to reactive," Byrne said. "Our tax revenue will increase the most if we have excellent marketing going forward."

According to the proposal, the professional branding plan would create a more "accurate, contemporary and positive image" for the city. The results could include new marketing materials, such as a new logo and pamphlets for prospective businesses, and ideas for consistent messaging and greater communication.

"A brand is our reputation and the enduring essence of our community based on what people think, feel and experience here," the proposal reads. "It forms a distinctive and compelling promise and gives us our competitive edge."

The ad hoc committee hoped the city would approve their recommendations in August, send out a request for proposals for professional services in September, approve funding for the services in November, and begin implementing recommended changes and new staffing next spring.

Mayor Kathy Ehley, who sat on the ad hoc committee, said she thought a staff position was critical to integrating marketing efforts into daily habits at City Hall.

"Without a point person leading that way I don't see how it's going to happen," Ehley said.

The Budget and Finance Committee will likely review the proposal at its next meeting, Sept. 2.

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