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Committee mulls over rebranding effort for Federal Way

By GREG ALLMAIN
Federal Way Mirror reporter
September 25, 2013 · Updated 5:32 PM
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A city brochure with the tagline 'It's all within reach.' / Courtesy image

The discussion is moving forward for revitalizing Federal Way's image and changing the current marketing slogan of "It's all within reach."

On Sept. 24, members of the Finance, Economic Development and Regional Affairs Committee (FEDRAC) mulled over possible rebranding efforts for the City of Federal Way.

Community and Economic Development Director Patrick Doherty said the rebranding initiative has a suggested $25,000 earmarked in the city budget. As it stands right now, he said, the potential initiative would be divided into three phases.

"Phase 1, is really focusing on the evaluation of where we are with our brand and where we are in the marketplace," Doherty said. That evaluation would be done through focus groups, surveys, social media, and contact with the residents to determine what would be reflected in a brand, he said.

Phase 2, Doherty indicated, would be a rebranding strategy that would be developed from the work in Phase 1. Phase 3 would be the implementation of the rebranding.

Mayor Skip Priest attended the FEDRAC meeting, and said there's a consensus among city leaders that Federal Way's tagline — "It's all within reach" — could certainly use some revision. The tagline was adopted in 2004.

"It's clear there seems to be a general agreement that we need to improve our brand. 'It's all within reach,' for many of us, has suggested that (what's within reach) wasn't here. That it was somewhere else to reach for, when in fact we have a great number of very positive things in our community," Priest said.

Priest said the messaging/rebranding effort could go in a number of different directions given current projects the city is pursuing, most notably a Performing Arts and Conference Center (PACC) and mixed-use park in the downtown core. The branding message would change if that major downtown development does not go forward, Priest said.

Priest said city staff is limited to assist in this effort, and that one consideration that also needs to be studied is how the city would continue to fund its branding/messaging campaign once something new has been developed.

One final point the mayor touched on is that part of the effort should be aimed at Federal Way residents, and not just those outside of the city.

Committee and Federal Way City Councilmember Kelly Maloney, whose expertise in the private sector is in branding/marketing, suggested a number of possible approaches as the city attempts to improve its image in the region.

"You need to create a perception, internally and externally, and that would be the goal," Maloney said. "A lot of the time, organizations or municipalities get in the habit of letting their audience define them. … What we need to do is take control of that message, and one way we do that is survey our community and outside of our community, and we find what resonates, and then we figure out the messaging from that."

Committee chair and Councilmember Dini Duclos said the rebranding effort is something that needs to happen.

"Renton says that they're proud of who they are and they want to tell people," said Duclos, referencing Renton's "Ahead of the Curve" branding and ad campaign. "And as was said, ours doesn't. Ours tells people to go other places…Let's make our citizens proud of who we are."

No direct action was taken at the Sept. 24 meeting. Priest and the FEDRAC committee members did indicate they felt the best path forward is to look for funds for rebranding as the city works on its mid-biennium budget update throughout the coming months.

2004: "It's all within reach"

A 2004 report in The Mirror about the adoption of "It's all within reach" as Federal Way's tagline noted that Deputy Mayor Jim Ferrell, then a city councilman, was one of two council members who voted no after hearing testimony against the tagline during a public comment period.

"I had serious concerns about it because I didn't think it said anything," Ferrell said in 2004.

Federal Way had hired Seattle design firm Leonhardt Fitch to come up with a new logo and the tagline "It's all within reach." The city paid about $90,000 for the firm's service, according to The Mirror's 2004 report, which concluded with this paragraph:

"Some council members and residents criticized suggested taglines for not being positive enough. They said one, 'The city next door,' undermined Federal Way's status, and another — 'Start here. Go anywhere' — seemed to encourage people to leave."


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