Delaware County officials plan to launch a new branding campaign for the county.

County commissioners Thursday authorized county communications manager Jane Hawes to administer and direct a branding campaign for Delaware County.

Commissioner Gary Merrell called for a branding campaign for the county recently when the county learned of its new AAA credit rating.

The time seems appropriate to start looking at “branding our county and really putting our name out there,” he said in the May 25 commission meeting.

Asked about the anticipated cost of the campaign, Hawes said in an email: “The budget will be based on the bids that we receive by the deadline of 4:30 p.m. Aug. 1.” The bids will be opened the next morning, she said.

Commissioners say they are looking to set the county apart from the city of Delaware.

“The county is a complex organization,” Commissioner Jeff Benton said. “How do we differentiate the city and the county?”

The city of Delaware has recently been through a similar branding campaign.

“We are definitely benefiting from the fact that the city of Delaware just went through a similar process, so hopefully that eliminates some of the ‘fear of the unknown’ about what we’ll be doing,” Hawes said in a prepared statement. “I think the city’s result was very successful from creating a new logo that feels absolutely representative of the city to putting up wayfinding signage that helps people navigate the city more safely.”

“While we often think of brands as something you can see, like a logo … used by an organization, it really goes beyond that,” she said.

Hawes told commissioners she plans to push out a request for proposals from design firms to their social media and websites.

“Basically we’re going to take the proposals through Aug. 1,” Hawes said. “The goal is to have somebody hired and the resolution to approve the contract by the end of August.”

“Once we select a firm to partner with,” Hawes said, “we’ll begin the research phase, meeting with a wide variety of people, both inside and outside county government, and gathering input about the county’s history, demographics, core values and our vision for the future.”

Hawes said the proposal stipulates that all design work be completed by Feb. 1 so the county can start implementing changes as the new judicial center opens in June 2017.

The re-branding has been well received by many in the county government as the word has spread, she said. “I am encountering a lot of enthusiasm from people in other branches of the county government to move on this,” Hawes said.

Hawes told commissioners that, in re-branding the county, she would like to honor the history and look to its future.

“It’s a process of defining who and what an organization is and it’s a way of communicating where we’re headed in the future,” Hawes said. “The project’s ultimate goal is a ‘style guide’ that is used to create images, signs and other visual and verbal elements that represent an organization. It’s an absolutely essential part of strategic planning because it helps us define who we serve today and who we can serve in the future.”

“I think that’s an important project to get it refreshed and a new brand,” Benton said.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin