College Park considers cashing in on brainpower -- Gazette.Net


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College Park is on the cusp of making a “smart” decision when it comes to rebranding the city in a way that highlights its brilliance, according to city officials.

Baltimore-based marketing company idfive LLC was hired over the summer to lead the rebranding efforts by studying the area and presenting iconic images and phrases that speak to the city, particularly incorporating images and tag lines that touch upon the city’s education population and beneficial location. Primarily, College Park is looking to roll out a new city logo and tag line to attract new long-term residents and businesses all while showcasing a sense of community pride, said Chantal Cotton, the assistant to the College Park city manager.

Cotton said idfive was paid $30,000 to provide an objective point of view by studying the city from the outside and interviewing more than 100 residents, businesses and elected officials in College Park rather than having city staff come up with its own rebranding plan.

Matt McDermott, an idfive creative director, said he conducted extensive research into the area as well as other areas that meet a similar model to College Park and surveyed a large cross-section of residents and community stakeholders to determine what the city means to those who live in or visit the area.

Eight out of every 10 people who live in College Park have some form of college education and one in five have an advanced degree, McDermott said, noting that one of the biggest traits of the city is that it is “smart” in reference to the education level of residents, the inclusion of the University of Maryland, the forward-thinking goals of the City Council and the convenient location of the city being between Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

“A Smart Place to Live,” “Small City, Big Possibilities” and “Smart, Naturally” are the three tag lines being considered, with council members favoring the first two options during a Nov. 7 council work session.

“It’s important to keep in mind the multiple components like the logo, a tag line, typography, color. But there’s also the aspect of feeling, emotions behind it,” McDermott said. “A brand makes you feel something. Most importantly, a branding is a promise, a promise you are making to your audience and constituents. Our goal is to align it with where College Park is now and where it hopes to be in the future.”

Each tag line was coupled with a logo and each highlighted the suburban, residential portions of the city paired with the university.

“Not having something with the university in it would be silly, but at the same time, we don’t want it to be, ‘The University of Maryland is here!’” said Councilman Marcus Afzali (Dist. 4). “This does a good job at blending those two. The word ‘live’ [in “A Smart Place to Live”] is very important to me.”

Councilwoman Stephanie Stullich (Dist. 3) said she prefered the second slogan, “Small City, Big Possibilities.”

“I think it’s nice to be aspirational,” she said. “Even if 10 years from now we achieved a lot of what we want to achieve, we will still have possibilities.”

McDermott and idfive are now awaiting direction from the council for a decision on the logos and slogans. When a decision is made, the city and marketing company can move forward with implementation, determining where to place signage, what to update on city literature and how to alter the city’s online presence.

Cotton said the rebranding tag line and logo will likely be chosen by the end of the year and implementing the new material will likely begin by the spring 2013.

djgross@gazette.net