Halifax makeover one step closer to reality

Halifax should be bold, according to a rebranding campaign, and drop “Regional Municipality” from the name.

By Ian Gibb

The main entrance at Grand Parade Square. (Ian Gibb/Peninsula News)
This building could see some change under the proposed rebranding.   (Ian Gibb/Peninsula News)

Be bold, Halifax.

That was the conclusion made in a presentation by Revolve Branding Inc. to Halifax Regional Municipality’s executive committee Monday. The committee voted unanimously in favour of the preliminary branding plan, which will go before regional council in April for approval.

Revolve was commissioned by the municipality to overhaul its image and develop a unique identity for Halifax.

The end of the presentation by Phil Otto, CEO of Revolve, unveiled the brand promise, which is “be bold.”

“Our residents don’t want us to be seen as a sleepy, quaint, seaside village,” said Otto.

Over the past several months Revolve has sought the feedback of more than 20,000 individuals through social media, public consultations and phone interviews.

What’s in a name?

Since amalgamation in 1996, Halifax and the surrounding area has been known as the Halifax Regional Municipality. Otto said their research showed people wanted something simpler.

“An overwhelming number of people have a strong opinion that the name of our region is Halifax,” said Otto.

He added, “Our residents do not want HRM.”

Otto said the future challenge will be to associate Halifax with the surrounding communities the same way that Toronto signifies the Greater Toronto Area.

Otto said the brand promise to be bold is the DNA of Halifax’s new identity, and that it will be the “heart and soul” of the city.

Monday’s presentation, the first glimpse of the new brand, highlighted Revolve’s public feedback about Halifax’s best and worst qualities. Some of the key attributes: Halifax is accessible, has a strong history, is well-educated, and is livable. Problems with the city were largely based on the business environment and unemployment.

HRM executive standing committee comprises the Mayor and seven appointed councillors.  (Ian Gibb/Peninsula News)
HRM’s executive standing committee comprises the Mayor and seven councillors. (Ian Gibb/Peninsula News)

What’d they think?

Mayor Mike Savage praised the energy of the branding strategy.

“I love it,” said Savage. “This will raise some eyebrows.”

Coun. Linda Mosher said she was impressed with the thoroughness of the consultation process, calling it the best she has seen in her 14 years as a councillor.

“I think you got to the average Joe, which is the goal we’ve always had and we’ve never been able to get there,” said Mosher.

What’ll it cost?

One councillor expressed concern about the expenses associated with rebranding the city.

“The rubber may hit the street when we start talking about cost of delivery,” said Coun. Bill Karsten.

Revolve was awarded the contract, worth $216,915, by the municipality last year. The contract says Revolve must do community consultations, develop the brand, and assist with rolling out the strategy later this year. Costs for the change will not be known until later in the process.

Revolve is currently designing a logo for the city and overhauling the municipality’s website.