Monday, January 24, 2011

Re-branding Laredo talk continues: Bowlin supports "Pro-Bono" campaign*

Rebrand Laredo's Image?? You don't like the Coke & Hot dog or what?
In today's Coffee Talk section of LMT's business journal, Sean Bowlin once again addressed the issue of improving (re-branding) the City of Laredo's image. Today's article touched upon how the city of Salinas, California is approaching its re-branding efforts. In his article, Bowlin focuss on two specific things that Laredo might want to learn from the California's city's experience.

First of all, Bowlin clearly states "Note that for better or worse, it took this Northern California agricultural industry-based city with about half of Laredo's population about nine months from the time it dealt out a request for proposals, to the time it hired the firm". Bowlin, no doubt, belives in the old adage "haste makes waste" and does not want the city to be in a rush when deciding who to hire for the image makeover. This is a sensible approach and I'm sure many readers would agree that would-be-consultants should be carefully screened.

The second point that I took from this week's Coffee Talk article was this: The city should not have to absorb any of the costs of the re-branding campaign. Bowlin himself, prefaces the article on the city of Salinas by stating in a one-sentence paragraph: "The firm will not charge the city".  This is reiterated later in the article which goes on to state :
"According to the proposal, the initiative will include: conducting research, hosting informational meetings, identifying markets to target, tradeshow development and creating a logo, and addressing negative perception, including crime and the perceived "lack of things to do" in Salinas. The city will not cover the cost of the project"
Ironically, the article suggests that the firm which got the Salinas, California rebranding campaign was, not the Salinas-based, TMD but the out-of-town firm, Avant. This confuses me somewhat because in previous articles, Bowlin and his co-collumnist AB Barrera, were strongly advocating for a local firm. Now, he appears to be saying that the most important things are : 1)the city should take time to make a selection, 2) the city should select a firm that will not charge the city for it's "project".

How would the rebranding firm make any profit then? Following the Salinas example, the chosen firm would get to participate in a "retail component that allows the company to sell merhcnadise. The consultant would then collect a share-80 percent in the first year- of revenues generated by sales. The share shrinks and is phased out in five years".  Does Laredo have such a firm: one that would "not charge" for it's project and be willing to be paid instead through a "retail component"?  If not, will Laredo have such a firm 9 months from now?  One thing is for sure, you have to give credit to Sean Bowlin for doing his part in keeping this conversation going; just as we have.

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