What makes the whole City branding survey and ensuing work so interesting is the connection that this has with our Interim City Manager, Ann Marie Gallant’s, work in the last city that she led before Alameda.
Let’s put aside the question of whether or not Alameda really needs rebranding for a minute.
So, back in the day when our ICM was the permanent City Manager of a little city called Desert Hot Springs in the Coachella Valley. Desert Hot Springs is most notable for filing for bankruptcy some years ago (not during Ann Marie Gallant’s term) so you can sort of see why they would want to rebrand the City. A company named Graphtek was hired to do the branding work according to this story in the Press Enterprise:
Also under discussion is a proposal for a new and radically different city seal and logo. Mike Cheley, CEO of Palm Desert-based Graphtek, unveiled last week a draft logo and seal featuring a water spurt framed by a desert plant, purple mountains and a golden sky.
As part of this effort, the city’s motto ended up being, “California’s Spa City,” it’s trademarked and everything. For those interested, this was the original presentation by Graphtek with their process for the identity work. The end result (see logo in the upper left hand corner) is a tad bit different than the initial design that was created.
That’s about all the info I could find about the branding process down in Desert Hot Springs, but here’s where it gets really interesting. So the company that was selected in Desert Hot Springs also maintains (or hosts) the City of Desert Hot Springs’ website (you can see in the web address that certain pages “live” on the Graphtek server). This same company was selected by our ICM to perform the same work in Alameda. The Scope of Work for their contract with the City is fairly vague, but the first few pages appear to be work around redesigning the City’s website.
Of course, what’s a little strange about this contract that it the contract is between the City and “One Eighty Marketing (aka Graphtek)” out of Brisbane, CA. However Graphtek, according to its website, is based out of Palm Desert.
So here’s the thing, technically this is all on the up and up. Even though a Request for Proposals was not released for this project, it didn’t need to be because the City Manager has the discretionary authority to expend up to $75,000 without City Council approval. However, it’s fairly questionable that this work would come just under the threshold at $74,800 for the work. I mean, how would you know that you wouldn’t need to send it out for RFP? I guess we should be gratified that it wasn’t $74,999.
Personally, I bet we could have done it cheaper and probably by a local company that is already familiar with Alameda enough to realize that some of the questions used in the survey are pretty lame and not at all indicative of Alameda.
I know that Jack B. does website design, I’m sure he would be able to offer a ballpark cost and while we are on the subject of Alameda based businesses, I can probably think of a half a dozen Alameda companies that could have offered the same services (website and/or identity design) to the City of Alameda that are now being outsourced to a Brisbane/Palm Desert company. By the way, the Brisbane address in the contract links to a business license for “Graphtech” and not One Eighty Marketing.
I really think it’s a shame that while the City asks us all to “Shop Alameda” they don’t even both to attempt to do the same.
Although based on the initial survey, my guess for the motto the consultants will offer is: “Alameda: we’re an island.”