Waukesha Common Council approves hiring marketing firm for downtown rebranding

Published on: 1/7/2014

After a long discussion Tuesday night, the Common Council approved a contract to hire a marketing firm in the effort to rebrand downtown Waukesha.

With a cost of $15,000, the Milwaukee-based Savage Solutions will now consult with downtown stakeholders to hear what they want as a new logo to be the image of downtown.

The city's staff and some of the council members felt a new, fresh brand was the right step in helping revitalize downtown Waukesha.

Not all of the aldermen were on board with the rebranding effort, however.

Eric and Cory Payne, Daniel Manion and Kathleen Cummings voted against funding for the consultant.

Cummings and Eric Payne questioned why the city needs to change the “historic downtown” label.

Community Development Specialist Jeff Fortin said more than 12,000 cities currently call themselves “historic” and this rebranding effort is a way to distinguish downtown Waukesha and better market itself with a more modern look.

Rebranding downtown is an extension from the Community Development’s new Central City Master Plan.

Fortin said downtown is undergoing a major makeover over the next several years, including many street reconstruction projects.

Updating new banners are a key component of this, he said.

“New banners should reflect what downtown truly means,” Fortin said.

Alderman Vance Skinner voted for hiring a consultant for rebranding because he said there are many components to downtown and they should be reflected in its brand. 

A couple residents at the meeting spoke at Tuesday’s meeting and said they don't feel it was the appropriate time to rebrand downtown.

Downtown business owner Jeff Barta, who recently formed a new private downtown group for property owners, said results of a survey that didn't support rebranding should be considered.

The item was previously on the Common Council's agenda twice in December but was pushed off until Tuesday so City Administrator Ed Henschel could further review the contract.