TBS creates image for the city of Zurich: employees as brand ambassadors

Following a fundamental overhaul of its brand identity, the City of Zurich is presenting itself with a new look. Christina Stücheli, information officer of the city council, and Beat Aeschlimann from the Zurich agency TBS explain in an interview how the new appearance was created by means of co-creation.

In October 2019, the process for the further development of the appearance of the city of Zurich began, and the new appearance has now been fully rolled out and in use since 2021. Despite the diversity of the city's information, services and products, this will achieve a clear recognizability and the city will be perceived as citizen-oriented and modern.

Christina Stücheli, representing the commissioning city, and Beat Aeschlimann, responsible for the project on the part of TBS, have worked together with Advertisingweek.ch talked about the implementation.

AdvertisingWeek.ch: Christina Stücheli, what was the task?

Christina Stücheli: We demand of ourselves to communicate at eye level, to make a modern, active role of the administration visible and tangible for the city's residents and visitors. In addition, an identity should be created that is independent, captures the character of Zurich and does justice to the city in its diversity.

Christina Stücheli, Information Officer of the Zurich City Council.

Keyword diversity - was that also a challenge?

Stücheli: Absolutely. It was a matter of reconciling the most diverse communication needs and the many different messages of the city. One administration and, in addition, around 50 offices and specialist departments, hundreds of topics and the most diverse target groups. We wanted to reduce complexity, because the city has countless topics, channels and dialog groups. So our goal was to create consistency and unity with possible diversity at the same time.


Beat Aeschlimann, how did you approach this task as an agency?

Beat Aeschlimann: About co-creation, because a brand lives from its brand ambassadors and is also carried outward by them - in communication as well as in behavior. A lived identity was the maxim for us from the very beginning when implementing this mammoth project. This requires a process-based approach that first collects all the needs and then manages to reconcile them all. We were able to demonstrate this approach, which was probably the decisive factor in our being chosen as the agency partner for this assignment.


How was this specifically addressed?

Aeschlimann: The process was kicked off with active onboarding of the key employees involved in communication. The needs of the various stakeholders were collected and actively integrated into the process and the development of the solution. In walk-in labs, the future appearance of the city was defined together with interested parties from various departments and positions. Through projects with various departments, we tested a wide range of applications, learned a lot and optimized them.

What were the learnings?

Aeschlimann: In the process, we quickly realized: The systematics must not be too rigid. The design must work for a large-scale information campaign as well as for a voting booklet or a mobility study, for a very specific information flyer as well as for the very comprehensive website of the city with all its online services and its wealth of information. For topics as diverse as geriatric care, political voting, or the city as an employer.


How then was this brought to bear?

Stücheli: Finally, for the launch, training sessions and an accompanying rollout ensured that identity was properly anchored and lived. This was the starting signal to motivate all contributors and co-designers, according to the motto: "You are all now helping to shape the new city of Zurich!"

The The implementation phase started a good year ago - how does the new CD work in everyday life?

Stücheli: The new CD should also be understood as a starting point and opportunity to question communicative activities and to redesign them from the ground up. In the future, the focus will be on the needs of the recipients: what we want to say, achieve and solve. These goals define the content of communication. A good example of this is the voting information: The new design has certainly made it more attractive and clearer, but at the same time it has been fundamentally revised conceptually, thus creating more orientation and getting to the heart of the relevant information even more quickly from the voter's point of view.


Has this approach already borne fruit in concrete terms?

Stücheli: Clearly. Take the Corona campaign, for example, which was briefed, developed, produced and displayed at 1,500 billboard locations in less than 72 hours. It became Corona's key visual, so to speak - also in the media. In addition, the city's campaigns now have a much more uniform appearance, making the sender clearly recognizable. At last, the city of Zurich is visible in the public sphere in the same way that it is present in everyday life: the city makes sure that people are doing well.

Beat Aeschlimann, owner of the Zurich agency TBS.

What are you particularly proud of?

Stücheli: We are pleased with the very fast and smooth introduction within 18 months - and with the great commitment of all those involved.

Aeschlimann: That we also managed to convince the city's well-established, visual communications departments of our approach. Some of them then fundamentally reviewed their activities, redefined their toolkit and implemented it in the CD - or they are in the process of doing so.

Stücheli: Of course, there are also organizational units that have fewer resources. For these, the new appearance helps them communicate all the more professionally. The CD and the templates help them to communicate their content efficiently, strikingly and attractively to the outside world.

Aeschlimann: We are pleased about the positive feedback from users - from those responsible for communications to the designers and the city council, i.e. at all levels. And of course also about praise directly from the population.

Stücheli: Now we are proud of the strong recognition: a face and a voice that fits us as Zurich. We even quickly found imitators, so striking is the new appearance.

The new CD manual is publicly available on City-zuerich.ch/cd accessible.

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