25 compete for county branding project

Delaware County officials planning to launch a new “branding” campaign for the county moved forward Tuesday morning with the opening of individual bids from design firms looking to be awarded the project.

However, county officials still aren’t saying how much money will be spent on the campaign.

Alaina Shearer, of Cement Marketing in Columbus, stood by as Jane Hawes, communication manager for the county, opened her company’s bid.

Shearer expressed her excitement of the rebranding project because she grew up in Delaware. “I remember walking from the bank to the comic book store,” she said. “It’s great to be back and we would love to win this.”

Hawes said the county received 25 bids that will now go to a “selection committee” to choose the contract recipient by the end of August. The plan calls for rolling out the new county “brand” in February 2017.

The county has looked at the recent branding campaign of the city of Delaware, using it as a template for its own.

“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 in late June.

Asked about the anticipated cost of the campaign then, 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.” On Tuesday afternoon, Hawes said she and her team were busy going through the proposals one by one and could not meet The Gazette’s request for a cost range — the highest and lowest bids.

“I hope to have the process completed by 10 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) at which time I can provide the high and low figures,” Hawes said in an email Tuesday afternoon. “Please keep in mind, however, that this is a ‘best and lowest’ determination process. … It is not an ‘open bid’ process where the lowest bid is the winner. Cost is only one component in the decision-making process.”

County commissioners on July 5 authorized Hawes to administer and direct the branding campaign for Delaware County.

Commissioner Gary Merrell led the charge for a branding campaign for the county when the county earned 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.

Hawes said in her initial statement in late June that “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.”

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

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

The city spent $49,850 for branding and “way-finding,” according to Lee Yoakum, city spokesman.

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