Branding campaign for Covington is progressing

Efforts to develop a brand for the city of Covington which reflects an identity that goes beyond being a pass through to other places continues with the design phase for logos.

Efforts to develop a brand for the city of Covington which reflects an identity that goes beyond being a pass through to other places continues with the design phase for logos.

The city’s Economic Development Council partnered with the Covington Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2012 to develop a brand which would help make the city more recognizable to those from outside the region.

As the process progressed city and chamber officials recognized what the city’s image is now and want to refine it to communicate what Covington has to offer beyond traffic and shopping.

Karla Slate, Covington’s communications and marketing manager, explained that the brand audit is complete and presentations to stakeholders were made during the past six months as the partners worked on developing the city’s brand and identity.

“Now we’re working on the graphic part of that, what image will represent the brand,” Slate said. “We still have our two consultants and myself working on the project together.”

CEDC is serving as the steering committee for the effort, Slate said.

At the last CEDC meeting Sept. 26, Slate and the consultants presented 10 different logo design concepts, which were narrowed down to four ideas that the committee members wanted to see further developed.

“We’ll go back to them at the Oct. 24 meeting with those four (concept designs) for them to decide what to do,” Slate said. “Then at that point what we’d like to do is a joint meeting with CEDC, the chamber and the council to get buy in and to see if everybody will get behind it.”

Slate said she expects all three groups to support the concepts they developed as they have checked in with them and other stakeholders throughout the process to keep them in the loop throughout the branding process.

During the first phase there were workshops that gathered the input of Covington department heads, CEDC, chamber members and others.

A significant element of Covington’s identity is a connection with nature, but, that’s on the other end of the spectrum from the concept of the city as a short cut, a place to shop or the city people drive through to get to Maple Valley. In order to develop an identity for the city those two elements need to be unified somehow.

“That’s really what the branding strategy is about,” said Derek Gillette, one of the consultants on the project, at a chamber luncheon in March. “A branding strategy is not necessarily changing the plan of the city. A branding strategy just finds a way to communicate that (identity) in a better way. It invites people to the party and to participate.”

During the second phase of research and data gathering, Gillette said at the luncheon in March, they defined three main audiences for the branding message: those who live in Covington, those who do business in the city and those who are visiting Covington.

To that end, a working tagline, “Growing Towards Greatness,” was developed and the logo designs incorporated that to varying degrees.

Thus far, Slate said, the city has not spent much money on this branding effort thanks in part to the pro bono work done by Gillette, who lives in the area. Eventually, the city will need to budget some cash to pay for the use of a new logo, but that’s something Slate expects to happen in phases.

Once a branding graphic, a new Covington logo, is selected, Slate said, the next step would be to develop an action plan to determine how, when and where the new image would be used.

“Aesthetically speaking, they want something that’s simple, that is easy to read but is more modern and colorful (than the current Covington logo),” Slate said. “Thinking more on the line of themes, they’re really  looking for something that reflects the fact that Covington is a growing community and not just growing in development.”

That is the message behind the “Growing Towards Greatness” tagline.

“All of our messaging going forward will convey that (theme), so it will always be the underlying tone,” Slate said. “We have a ways to go, but we’re still growing.”