DUBLIN -- What's in a city's reputation? Dublin wants to know, and it's spending $128,000 to develop a marketing brand to promote itself as a place to live, work, shop and open businesses.

Developing a brand for the fast-growing city of 46,000 involves more than hanging out at bars and restaurants and asking patrons what they think of Dublin -- although city consultants say they plan to do a little of that.

Consultants plan to do a few "undercover interviews" in local gathering spots.

The city also is paying consultants to do opinion surveys, research, public forums and interviews with civic leaders and ordinary folks to help put a finger on the essence of what Dublin has to offer.

"We help communities be as competitive as they can be. We've got a saying that your branding is what people say about you when you're not around," Don McEachern, president of the company that won the branding contract, told the Dublin City Council last month.

The vote was 5-0 to hire the Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies to spearhead the effort to develop a brand. The firm has worked with 200 places across the country to develop brands, including the state of Florida and its "The Perfect Climate for Business" slogan.

City officials have said they want a marketing brand to help the city attract businesses, builders, and residents for new areas, a transportation center near the east Dublin/Pleasanton BART station and a planned downtown revitalization.


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"We want to know what we're doing right, and what we could be doing better," said Councilman Kevin Hart.

While Dublin has a low crime rate, good schools, convenient access to two freeways and two BART stations, Hart said the city sometimes is overshadowed by the more affluent and older neighboring city of Pleasanton.

"Dublin has always been second brother to Pleasanton, the town across the freeway," Hart said. On the other hand, he said "Dublin is the best-kept secret in the Tri-Valley, if not the county."

While the consulting team will look at how Dublin fits in and competes with surrounding communities, McEachern said the city brand should reflect Dublin's distinct and authentic qualities and appeals.

He also said that once the brand is adopted, the city has more work to do in making use of that brand to promote itself.

"Logos and lines don't create jobs, "McEachern said. "Passionate people do."

He said effective city brands can be used by local companies to promote their products and businesses.

After the Alaska fishing village of Petersburg adopted a platform of "Little Norway, Big Adventure," many local businesses used variations of that in promoting local foods and products, he said.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.

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