Building the South Milwaukee Brand

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” This quote from Dolly Parton gets to the heart of an important initiative the South Milwaukee City Council approved on Tuesday.

The council voted unanimously to spend $20,000 to contract with Third Ward-based Savage Solutions to develop a new brand for the City of South Milwaukee.

This is about so much more than a logo. Rather, it’s about the community coming together to define who we are, what we want to be, and then bringing it to life graphically in a multitude of ways.

Developing and launching the brand will take months, as long as a year. A group of stakeholders – residents and business owners – will guide the process throughout. Once that is complete, the exciting part starts – exploring and delivering creative ways to make the brand part of our community identity.

Of course, there will be business cards, logo gear, and digital executions. But I’m just as excited about opportunities like street banners (I love this one Savage has done in Oak Creek, and this one they’ve been working on for downtown Waukesha), welcome signage, directional street signage, and even advertising campaigns (you have probably heard the Oak Creek radio commercials during Green Bay Packers games). And how about murals, or billboards?

All of these details will be the subject of more discussion – with funding subject to council approval — as the brand is launched and evolves over time. This will take years. But at least we’re getting started.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Savage – in a presentation that included the Parton quote referenced above – gave us a glimpse into who they are, how they define branding, their process in defining a brand, and work they’ve been doing (and continue to do) in Oak Creek and Waukesha to develop their brands.

It’s that work that has me excited about what Savage can do for us.

Oak Creek officials rave about the firm, and after several meetings ahead of Tuesday’s council meeting, I share their enthusiasm as we begin this process.

The timing is right, especially with the recent passage of the comprehensive plan, which includes as one of its recommendations doing exactly what we’re doing. Practically, it makes sense, too. With downtown streetscaping getting underway in 2017, I see our new-look city center as one potential place this brand can be born.

But first things first. As Dolly Parton said, let’s first discover who we are. Then we’ll do it on purpose.




Filed under South Milwaukee

5 responses to “Building the South Milwaukee Brand


    Yes, we need a new “brand” image. However, I believe that we should make an investment in renaming our city along with a new brand launch. I hope you will seriously consider this suggestion. South Milwaukee says nothing of who we are, other than that we are a community on the south side of Milwaukee which only describes a less than positive image… like South Chicago does. I can see the reaction on people’s faces when they ask me where I am from and when I say “South Milwaukee”, they immediately tune out. I know it is a costly endeavor but until our name is changed, it will be hard to build a brand to enhance our name.

    • My vote would be to have a contest, letting one of our talented High school students in Art class make a design and vote on that! Keep it in South Milwaukee., high prices don’t always mean better. I also agree withAnnette , a new name would help our image a lot. People think we are hicks in the farm land.

    • Rachel

      I love the idea of changing the name.

  2. Tim Simmons

    Thanks for bringing in professionals, who can look deeper than a name change and a high school-designed logo. That said, please continue your efforts to beautify the city (neighbors: that means you, too) and attract good businesses.

  3. Pug

    We should let Oak Creek annex South Milwaukee. On a sidenote. We sure spend a lot of money on consultants.

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