By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(Monday, May 3, 2021) – The City of Sunny Isles Beach is currently moving forward to the second phase of our rebranding project. I have been asked by some residents, ‘Why now?’ How did we decide that it was the right time to rebrand? Until recently, the City was still developing and figuring out its identity. Within the last several years, we established goals and a clear vision for the City’s future. We decided now was the optimal time to define not only our municipal government with a brand, but the city as a whole. The brand will tie in our city goals, and new mission and vision statements will set the tone for our future.
Since incorporation, Sunny Isles Beach has not had a real brand. To put it simply, a brand defines and identifies an organization both externally and internally. Think New York’s ‘I ♥ NY’ logo, or Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan, or the USPS eagle logo you can see on all mail trucks. Each example contributes to that organization’s overall external brand. Brands also include internal facets such as mission and vision statements and design guidelines. All of these are determined through a meticulous process involving research, focus groups, and consultations with experts.
Sunny Isles Beach has never had a logo, only the official City seal; and we have never had a defined mission statement. You may recall some of our slogans over the years such as ‘Life with a View’ and ‘Florida’s Riviera.’ The caveat with those is that they were chosen without doing due diligence by conducting research and collaborating with the community. Also, it is important to note that a brand evolves over time. Sunny Isles Beach is not the same city it was in the early 2000s with ‘Life with a View,’ and it is not the same city it was 14 years ago when ‘Florida’s Riviera’ was chosen as the slogan. And it is not in our best interest to compare ourselves to another City. Sunny Isles Beach is unique at our core, and our brand should represent our individuality.
The rebranding process began in 2019 when we opened a competitive bidding process and Jacober Creative was chosen to lead our project. The purpose of the rebranding project is to extract the essence of Sunny Isles Beach and qualify that with consistent identifying features such as a logo, colors, slogan, and fonts. This project was an opportunity to bring the community into the process by collaborating with all stakeholders who would be affected by the brand: residents, City employees and officials, and business owners.
Phase 1 of the rebranding project consisted of qualitative and quantitative research, including three focus groups with key stakeholders, a phone survey and an online survey. We received 941 survey responses, yielding a 95% level of confidence, which is excellent when conducting research because it means we are very confident with the representative sample that was surveyed. Jacober Creative first presented the Rebranding Research Report and Strategic Analysis, which consists of an analysis of all the data collected throughout Phase 1, at the March 2021 Commission Meeting and then again for further discussion at the Virtual Rebranding Workshop on April 15.
Overall, the research found that residents, businesses and city staff have strong and warm feelings for the City, however none of these segments could play back a clear image of the City. There was not a universal recollection of our previous attempts with certain brand elements and those who knew our previous slogans failed to generate excitement for them. The key words that kept resurfacing were exclusive, diverse, family-oriented, and luxurious yet casual, with participants agreeing that the City was feminine, colorful, and fun. The strengths and characteristics universally attributed to SIB can be boiled down into four pillars: landscape, people, quality of life, and location. These are just some of the key findings, and the full report is available to read online at sibfl.net/rebranding.
Jacober Creative is now taking all of the findings from Phase 1, along with the feedback from the Commission, to execute the City’s new brand during Phase 2. The goals of Phase 2 are to create a unified brand identity that reflects the evolution of the city and its future growth, connect the local government with the community we serve, inspire resident engagement with the city, attract potential businesses and investors, and position Sunny Isles Beach as a safe, responsive and sought- after community.
We plan to hold another workshop during Phase 2 to discuss the proposed brand elements before presenting the brand to the Commission for formal adoption later this summer. We hope that since the brand will be co-created and based off extensive research, it will connect with the entire community, but we understand that not everyone will love the new logo or tagline. At the end of the day, it is ultimately an artistic representation. While we know it may not receive universal praise, hopefully, as a majority, we will all be able to agree that our new brand was carefully crafted to represent the City of Sunny Isles Beach and our vibrant community. We are confident that the brand will be a favorable representation of our auspicious future.