By William C. Singleton III
The Vestavia Hills City Council has agreed to pay a Homewood firm up to $215,600 to help the city develop a brand for itself.
The council has hired Tatum Design to guide its brand extension initiative, which will include developing a new website for the city, evaluating and creating designs for business signage and gateway entrances, creating a branding video which will showcase what Vestavia Hills has to offer and a brand vision book that will serve as an economic development piece by showcasing special events and amenities that may be attractive to potential businesses.
City officials say developing a brand is a first prong in the city’s economic development strategy.
“Branding is more than just a logo,” said City Manager Jeff Downes. “Branding is an assertive strategy that is a crucial part of any economic development strategy. Both enhancing existing businesses and growing new business means you have to know what you’re selling, and you have to be consistent in what you sell.”
City officials have included the city’s Chamber of Commerce leaders in discussions regarding economic development and branding.
“To be successful in economic development, the chamber of commerce and the city have to be in sync with one another,” the city manager said. “We need to make sure we don’t step on each other’s toes in our efforts.”
Chamber officials will focus on developing existing businesses while city officials will focus on recruiting new businesses, Downes said.
“All of these efforts are in sync, not one group doing something different from another group,” he said. “It will lead to us having consistent signage through the city so if you enter the city or business district, it looks and feels the same. Instead of the chamber expressing something and we’re expressing something different, from an economic development perspective, we have the same look and feel.”
Tatum Design has also agreed to help design a new website for the chamber, help chamber leaders to brainstorm how to promote special events to bring businesses and residents together and help with creative campaign concepts.
City officials allocated $22,050 in their 2013-2014 fiscal budget to pay for work Tatum will do for the chamber.
Karen Odle, chamber president, said working together will strengthen Vestavia’s efforts to prosper economically.
“Doing this in concert with all of the things in play right now, with all the new development coming in is only going to enhance our city greatly,” she said. “I think it’s something we’re all going to be proud of.”