Commentary

For Your Consideration: What’s in a Name?


[EDITOR’S NOTE: Our newest column – by Janice Taylor – is her personal viewpoint of current issues and the City of SeaTac. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].

by Janice Taylor

Recently, the city of SeaTac asked its citizens to help name a “new” code compliance effort. To fill you in on some background: Years ago, SeaTac had two code enforcement officers who split their territories up between the north and south ends of the city. Besides fielding citizen complaints, these officers proactively patrolled for problems. Somewhere along the line, we lost one officer yet gained supervisors and coordinators, and code enforcement now acts only on direct complaints. Well, okay. But it seemed the same people were complaining about the same problem children again and again with little results. So the good citizens took after City Council to shame them into action.

The City took a bold approach, utilized by public entities all over the country—they devised a something of marketing campaign, a press release and a survey of possible names. Webster defines marketing as “the activities that are involved in making people aware of a company’s products, making sure that the products are available to be bought, etc.”

I’ve been involved in numerous marketing campaigns and they typically start with a group brainstorming ideas. Think “Mad Men”. That still happens, now using computer programs and mostly minus the booze. Brainstorming is fun, loose and creative, not for the meek or business stodgy. You look at the product, its functions, its appearance, its perceived value to the targeted demographic, then you let the ideas fly like spaghetti against a wall. Through process of elimination, you discover the best name/slogan/logo/etc. for the product.

Ideally, the chosen name, etc., should communicate some sense of product identity or use. Example. Years ago I worked for a music company who created tapes (I said years ago) designed for dental offices to give patients something to listen to other than a drill. That product was named “Novotunes”, a nod to Novocain, with the sub-title of “Aural Anesthesia.”

Seattle City Light bills itself as “The Nation’s Greenest Utility.” That moniker would have been impossible years ago when “green” meant a color, not an ecological condition, and the word had to be marketed to become definition #10 in Webster. City Light spent two years and countless dollars surveying customers, which I participated in, gleaning the information it wanted to hear, creating the slogan and accompanying logo. The great thing is that no one really knows what “green” as it applies to City Light actually means! Yet, they are the greenest and Northwesterners are proud. At least we know they are a utility.

When I spoke at SeaTac City Council Tuesday, June 23rd, I chided them for not taking their marketing far enough, and used their survey’s offered names—SeaTac Shines, Brighter SeaTac, and SeaTac Soars—to inspire my own logos, one incorporating a turn-of-the last-century shoe shine boy, the second a sparkly dental office smile and the third a flying superhero. Hardly suggestive of code compliance. Those names fell short because the City has NO shiny, bright or high-flying product to offer. And after listening to citizens testifying of their personal code enforcement purgatories, one realizes the actual product is totally opposite those descriptions.

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Of course, one cannot sell a product by calling it a dud, and we citizens must understand our city officials were trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Their bad. What they can do to be more credible is to go back and fix their product, at least improve it. SeaTac already has the laws in place, they need to enforce them and penalize offenders. That is what citizens want–no showy marketing, just results.

I’ll offer the city a good start at improvement, free of charge. The cities of Seattle, Burien, Tukwila, Renton, Des Moines, Kent, basically every city around SeaTac, web sites offer on-line complaint filing features. With SeaTac, you have to download the form, print it out, fill it in, and either scan and e-mail, mail or fax it back. As the kids say, “Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot!” If the City has money to rebrand code compliance, they can find the money to put the city web site into the 21st century. Find form, fill it in, hit submit.

Finally, I’ll offer one more thing. How about we call our “new” program “Code Compliance Counts”? It tells what the product is, and that it matters. I’ll even offer a couple of logos:

Code Compliance Counts 1

Code Compliance Counts2


Comments

6 Responses to “For Your Consideration: What’s in a Name?”
  1. Pam F says:

    While I am fine with the name/title of Code Enforcement, Code Compliance Counts would work and would be an easy title to form an education program around.

    It is objective and descriptive rather than subjective and cutesy.

    I guess there wasn’t space on the form to enter your own suggestion for a new name–just chose from the goofy ones…

    Maybe you want to send an email to the city council with your suggestion.

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  2. Christina says:

    Actually, SeaTac has an app called Click -N- Request where you can report issues. I have it on my iPhone and I’ve used it a few times over the past two years to report illegal dumping and a house that was trashed. You can even take a photo with your phone and attach it to the report. The issues I reported were taken care of within a day or two. I agree we don’t need fancy marketing, we just need enforcement and results.

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  3. jellybean says:

    So if the name changes, is it going to give them the super powers and the ability to finally do their flipping job? Who cares what the name is, it can be rainbow unicorns if it will get them to do something!!

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  4. Melissa says:

    Great presentation! Fantastic job!

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  5. Environmental Chemist says:

    From my post elsewhere:
    SeaTac Shines? SeaTac Soars? Brighter SeaTac? Why stop there? Let’s give “Officer Friendly” name tags to all our officers, and repaint their cars sky blue. Rename the corrections center the Time-Out House. Legal could become the Do It Right department (after a consultant derived phrase from a Fortune 500 company). Public Works could become Damage Control (after the construction company appearing in Marvel Comics which specializes in repairing property damage caused by conflicts between superheros and supervillains) . The fire department could be nicknamed “Calendar Guys” The city manager could occupy the Montgomery Burns memorial chair, after the Simpson’s character. Human Services could become the “Brother Can You Spare A Dime” group, commemorating one of the best known songs for help from the Great Depression. We should designate the council members as Patches Pals, with all the rights, privileges, and honors accorded thereto. One could go on, but I believe the point has sufficiently been made. What an absolute waste of staff time and taxpayer’s resources, when there are real problems begging for real solutions – often solutions offered by taxpayers that have fallen on deaf ears!

    ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
    What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
    Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
    Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
    What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
    By any other name would smell as sweet;
    So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
    And for that name which is no part of thee
    Take all myself. William Shakespeare – (Romeo & Juliet, Juliet)

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  6. Janice Taylor says:

    Thanks for the conversations! This is what SeaTac needs–involvement.
    Allow me to explain the first series of pictures. These were the “logos” I presented at City Council. Each idealistic one was followed up by what the reality of city code compliance inspired–the tattered shoe shine boy, the dirty smile, and Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present whose opulent cloak covered up the true plight of the needy. The “My Fair City” picture was in reference to “My Fair Lady”, the reference I used to remind Council Professor Higgins spent considerable time and effort on gutter snipe Eliza Doolittle BEFORE he tried to pass her off as a lady. (I then suggested Council could use a movie night.)
    Also, I try to practice what I preach. Besides (or along with) complaining about a problem, offer some viable solutions.

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