City picks firm to lead branding, marketing effort

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
A Tennessee-based firm will help guide Elk River through the process of developing a city-wide branding and marketing strategy.
The Elk River Economic Development Authority (EDA) voted 6-0 Monday, March 14 to enter into a contract with ChandlerThinks at a cost not to exceed $37,250.
Four firms had responded to the city’s request for proposals, with prices ranging from $25,000 to $89,000.
While ChandlerThinks was not the cheapest, a branding subcommittee that heard presentations from the top three candidates voted 13-1 to recommend the EDA hire ChandlerThinks.
Several branding subcommittee members spoke in favor of ChandlerThinks before the EDA vote.
“They were so dynamic. They got it,” said Police Chief Brad Rolfe. “… I think he (Steve Chandler) is going to really get to the nuts and bolts of what we’re looking for.”
Council Member Nick Zerwas said ChandlerThinks was head and shoulders above the other contenders. The company has vast experience working with communities in Minnesota and across the United States, he said.
Wendy Simenson of Kemper Drug said the branding process could be a dry, boring exercise. “He (Chandler) has the ability to make it an exciting kind of a process and I think that he’ll really have a lot of charisma to sell it afterward,” she said.
Steve Chandler of ChandlerThinks has nearly 20 years of experience in strategic planning and brand development for local, regional and national brands, according to Elk River Marketing and Business Development Administrator Annie Deckert. Chandler, based in Hendersonville, Tenn., has worked with more than 40 communities across the United States through the community branding process.
A city-wide branding campaign is designed to dovetail with the new city vision and goals adopted by the Elk River City Council in October.

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