Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 17, 2010

Stakeholder, not nearly as delicious as it sounds

Filed under: Alameda, Business, City Council, Development — Tags: , — Lauren Do @ 6:14 am

The Oxford English dictionary defines a “stakeholder” as

noun 1 an independent party with whom money or counters wagered are deposited. 2 a person with an interest or concern in something.

Except in Alameda where stakeholder appears to mean a fairly small, hand-selected group of people.   We saw hints of this around the Civic Center Vision plan where “stakeholders” were selected to be involved in the Visioning process, but the community at large was left out.   Now, apparently the City’s “identity” is not sufficiently marketable so the Interim City Manager has contracted with a consultant to the tune of $74,800 to create a new identity package for the City of Alameda.

As an aside what is notable about the amount of $74,800 is that it is under the $75,000 trigger that would require City Council approval for any contract.   More about the consultant package in another post though.

Anyway, here is the email that was sent to stakeholders in the community about this process.   Just a note, I did not receive a copy of the survey, but was tipped off by a reader about it last week.

In today’s economic development environment, it has never been more important for cities to create their own unique identity which marks them competitively in both business attraction and retention.

Since the 80’s – a decade marked with several minor recessions – California cities adopted a tactic from the private sector – creating a logo which brands – in one icon or image – the collective identity of that community. This identity was initially labeled a logo, but has evolved in the past decades to become not only a graphic image of a community, but also its message characterizing cities’ attributes and characteristics. Many of these city logos have evolved to include a tagline or motto which reflects its values or guiding principles.

Toward that end, the City has undertaken a project to develop a logo and tagline as one of many tools to assist in presenting the characteristics of Alameda in its economic development efforts. This logo is not a replacement of the City’s corporate seal. This seal will remain the official corporate identity of the City. Rather, it is an icon and motto of sorts which can link the tradition of the seal within a visual iconic ‘picture’ of the city today. Think of the Nike ‘swoosh’ – that certainly captures in graphic the immediate identity of Nike, but it is not its corporate seal.

Because community input has always been a foundation of life in Alameda, a brief stakeholder survey has been prepared to solicit your responses to key questions which can assist our marketing and graphic consultants in developing a Nike ‘swoosh’ for Alameda. This iconic image and perhaps tagline will be used on marketing and public educational materials to ensure a citywide consistent theme, color and identity.

Please take five minutes to answer the brief questions in the attached survey. A response by Tuesday, May 18, 2010 [Tuesday May 11] would be most appreciated. The survey has been designed to be both quick and fun!

We have contracted with QuestionPro, an independent research firm, to field your confidential survey responses. Please click on this link to complete the survey: Start Survey

Thank you for your assistance in this effort. Staff will be pleased to report back on the results – you may find them quite interesting!

Ann Marie Gallant
Interim City Manager

I actually received two different copies with two different due dates.   The survey link is here if you consider yourself a stakeholder to Alameda’s identity and would like to fill out the survey.   Given how limited the distribution for this survey was,  I actually found this line highly ironic:

Because community input has always been a foundation of life in Alameda, a brief stakeholder survey has been prepared to solicit your responses to key questions which can assist our marketing and graphic consultants in developing a Nike ‘swoosh’ for Alameda.

“Community input” is the “foundation of life in Alameda” as long as the input is given by pre-selected individuals and/or groups.

If you aren’t interested in going through the motions but would like to know what is on the survey, you are in luck!   Because I took the survey and made screen shots of the pages.   Believe you me, it was not as easy as it is made to sound because when they ask for three selections, you have to make three selections or else you can’t move on.  And sometimes the selections are simply out there.

For this slide I really only had two answers that I was comfortable, but it forced me to choose three.   There really should have been a “no answer” selection or the ability to choose less than three.

This was one a toughie as well, I wasn’t sure if this was a question about how I envisioned Alameda in the future or if how I thought Alameda would turn out.

Okay this is the slide that caused me to send out my first WTF message to the first available person on my chat list.   I didn’t know “Homogenous demographics” was something that we were  (a) proud of (b) wanting to advertise as a selling point for Alameda and/or (c) actually true.    I’m actually a bit offended when coupled with the “Desire to be in the Bay Area but separate from” option as well.   How about “Proximity to job centers” as an option?   Or “Good Schools”?   Or a myriad of other reasons that don’t smack of xenophobia.

Of course, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since the City was using the term “Negroid” as late as 2008.

This one was fairly easy.   I could have added more if they would have let me.

This one was one I wanted to only check two.

I checked all the cities and selected Other and added “every other city in the Bay Area” but then I was kicked an error message saying I could only select 11.

Seriously, I just laughed and laughed when I read “Streamlined development process” and then thought, I guess they don’t consider “Proximity to Oakland” as a reason to relocate.

This particular slide was weird.   It’s pointless.

Here’s where the survey takes a really weird turn.  Colors?  What?  What color is Alameda?   Do I look like I care what color my City is?   How about green and black?   As in green for having money and not spending it on stupid surveys and branding attempts and black for being in the black by not spending our green money on the creation of an “identity package.”

Last slide, no better than the one before.

Here’s the really annoying thing about this whole identity process for the City of Alameda.   There are a lot of super talented people in the City of Alameda that would probably be up for the challenge of creating an identity for Alameda in some sort of contest.   Much like was done for the Alameda flag.   Was this really something that we needed to spend nearly $75K to do?


  1. What a ridiculous survey.

    Comment by JC — May 17, 2010 @ 9:08 am

  2. I recd two copies of the survey as well … the first one had an error in the due date.

    I thought there were better ways of spending $74.8k … it looked rather amateurish (the question on colors cracked me up). QuestionPro must be one heck of an elite research team to command that kind of price for such a dodgy survey.

    Either that, or they must be good friends with Ms Gallant!

    Comment by alameda — May 17, 2010 @ 9:55 am

  3. Well I guess if you pay someone $74,800. they have to do something to earn that money.
    So it looks like they will give us a nifty Nike type logo, and some new colors. Oh I forgot a nice little motto. Boy I wish I could have bid on this one.

    Comment by John Piziali — May 17, 2010 @ 10:35 am

  4. I guess we don’t have any schools in Alameda. The questions “Best describe Alameda,” “Top 3 reasons people live in Alameda,” “Phrases that apply to Alameda” and “Businesses relocate to Alameda” should have a “good school system” option.

    Comment by Jim Phillips — May 17, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

  5. tourist destination? hahahaahahahhahahaahahah

    Comment by E — May 17, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

  6. Hupple here. Dont have time to download but guess question is if these guys have done similar work for city halls elsewhere. And how’d that go.

    Comment by huphup — May 17, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  7. Aside from “Nautical” in the personality slide, our maritime features don’t seem to be getting much play in this survey.

    Comment by Jack B. — May 17, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  8. Oddly, “Tweaker Teal” was absent from the color scheme choices.
    What a waste of city funds.

    Comment by K. — May 17, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  9. Damned embarassing, what are the ICM’s connections to the firm that got this work? To spendmoeny like this and cut staff in these times, Council really needs to look at that. Incredibly stupid.

    Comment by DRM — May 17, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

  10. Which mental disorders best describe Alameda? (Please check up to three.)

    Alcohol/Substance Abuse

    Anorexia Nervosa

    Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD/ADD)

    Bipolar Disorder


    Eating Disorders

    Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    Panic Disorder

    Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


    Comment by AlamedaNayTiff — May 17, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

  11. Wish we had a council that could recognize a waste of money.

    And/or someone at City Hall that would have the courage to say, “hey, we paid good taxpayer’s money to get a survey…let’s not publish one that makes us look foolish.”

    If an investment in Marketing is needed, a contest is a fun idea. Also, it seems that the Business Associations and Realtors would have a great deal to offer in this area.

    Comment by Mike P. — May 17, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

  12. I think a contest is a brilliant idea. But I’m not sure that my idea for a logo would be particularly flattering.

    Comment by Alana Dill — May 17, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

  13. What a dumb and restrictive poll! Not imaginative, no room for open-ended community feedback, and too few opportunities to collect useful information. What a waste!

    And when did we, the community, ever decide that we needed re-branding, anyway?

    WTF does the ICM think she is doing, wasting our money like this to pad her friends’ incomes? I’ll bet she gets a kickback from this, too…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 18, 2010 @ 11:07 am

  14. Just for fun, I’m checking with a friend who is a really hot branding expert in SF. I asked him if the cost seems reasonable for both a rebranding and web redesign. I’ll get back to you on his comments.

    I think, to do the job well, we’d need to spend a lot more money. But since we’re using Graphtek, we would get a “cleaner” web site, but as for branding, that’s hard. Companies spend tons o’ bucks to do this. We might get something “nice” or “blech.” Who knows?

    However, the idea of holding a contest also leaves me cold, unless we invite agencies/vendors to give presentations and have the city council (or a task force [!]) pick one. There’s a way to do this that would be more inclusive and inventive, but the question still remains: Why?

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 18, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  15. Earth to ICM: Meditate on these three words — business … development … incentives.

    Comment by charlie — May 18, 2010 @ 12:35 pm

  16. Just heard back from my branding friend. His comments:

    “In my opinion, ‘branding’ or ‘re-branding’ a city is usually a foolish idea. In some cases, this sort of thing is useful: the ‘I Love New York’ campaign from the 80s, worked very well. However, that campaign was a multi-million-dollar advertising effort. Simply slapping on a new logo and thinking up a clever tagline is a useless endeavor, unless this will also be backed up by a major advertising expenditure. The Nike ‘swoosh’ logo would be meaningless were it not for millions of dollars giving it wide international exposure.

    “So, I am hoping most of the $75,000 is going towards web design.”

    BTW, his clients have included American Express and a ton of Silicon Valley firms.

    A nice, clean, easier-to-use website is not such a bad idea, and we could use the red-white-and-blue theme from the Alameda flag. But a new “brand” on this limited budget? Amateur hour.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 18, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  17. 15: Charlie, the ICM IS focusing on “business development incentives”–for her southern CA pals and former vendors at Desert Hot Springs and other major metropolises where she has worked in the past.

    Perhaps she does not realize that the SF Bay Area does, indeed, have talented and capable vendors available who can work on star-chamber civic center visions and unnecessary city rebranding campaigns?

    If the ICM is going to throw our money away, she could at least spend it within our own region instead of shipping it off to lalaland…

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 18, 2010 @ 2:06 pm

  18. 16: Our friend the branding professional (UPS’ “moving at the speed of business” was his, among others) does not think much of the ICM’s $74,800 contract. After taking the stakeholder’s poll, neither do I.

    The ICM apparently has more time and expertise in rebranding cities and envisioning costly and inappropriate civic center renovations than she has in being a constructive redevelopment partner to a master developer.

    Is she going off in all these distracting directions spending money on consultants because she wants to avoid facing the most important challenges facing Alameda–the ones at AP?

    Could we have a contest to name a new ICM instead?

    Comment by Jon Spangler — May 18, 2010 @ 2:14 pm

  19. Oops, my friend did major work for FedEx (now FedEx/Kinko’s). I don’t know if he ever worked for AmEx.

    Comment by Linda Hudson — May 18, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  20. We need a town brand like South Shore needed a new name. Who calls it Towne Center – no one. And I’ve only lived here 9 years.

    Comment by barb — May 18, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

  21. barb, you mean TownE CentRE… false pretentiousness FTL

    Comment by E — May 18, 2010 @ 2:52 pm

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