May 3 2018 - Brand, re-brand, but what is the point?

Brand, re-brand, but what is the point?

By Vince Cocurullo

Whangarei District Councillor, Okara Ward

By now most of you would have heard that the Whangarei District Council is wanting to re-brand, with a cost of approximately $170,000 over the next two years. However what will re-branding do? And what exactly is it we are rebranding? 

Let’s look at the branding around ANZAC. We have just had the ANZAC services around New Zealand and the world. Everyone knows full well what brand ANZAC brings and what being an ANZAC means. So why does Whangarei need to re-brand?

In my discussions with the public and the staff at Council, I have tried to get a reason and understanding as to why the Whangarei District Council needs to re-brand.  Yet I’m still struggling. Everyone who has some dealings with Council knows full well that Councils generally are a regulatory body, and they create rules that will either hinder or help the community (generally to make life easier and better). We also know that Council has the power to fine or punish people who break the by-laws of Council (like dog control, noise and parking issues), so Council typically is known for telling people off and taking money for that action.

What we may not realise is that there are departments within Council who exclusively try and help people. A great example is the Customer Services Team. This is the front line of Council, and they hear everything! They try to solve the various problems that the public have, and generally are thanked a lot by the community.

Then we have the Venues and Events team, this is the group that is trying to bring new events to Whangarei, or run existing events for the district. Generally these events make people ecstatic and happy.

In fairness to the rebrand, I do know staff have felt threatened in their jobs for being associated with Council.

But why do we need to re-brand?  Is there an underlying ego issue? Is the word ‘Council’ associated with negative stuff? We need to accept council has popular and unpopular roles. For example: CitySafe, libraries, events are popular.

Some comparable council rebrand experiences:

It would be nice to think the rebrand suddenly makes some people want to pay their rates more quickly, or attract fresh businesses to town, or makes commercial interests more cooperative with Council services – but unfortunately no one is suggesting that will happen.

Apparently it is yet to be decided whether councillors would still be referred to as ‘councillors’ or ‘elected leaders’ after the rebrand, which is a worry, because when you think of somebody whose job it is to listen to your concerns, you think of either a counsellor or a councillor – and often I feel like both.

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