• Taxpayers' Union criticises Hastings District Council for “staggering” amount of money spent on new logo

Taxpayers' Union criticises Hastings District Council for “staggering” amount of money spent on new logo

The Taxpayers’ Union has criticised the Hastings District Council for spending what it says is more than $70,000 on a rebranding initiative.

The new identity, which features the words 'Heretaunga Hastings' in bold, with interchangeable "stamps", will be used to promote Hastings District across tourism and economic development activity and will also be used for Hastings District Council's business activities.

It replaces the ‘Hastings - Heart of Hawke’s Bay' logo and council’s main gannet-adorned logo and will gradually extend to replace another 40-plus logos that have developed over the years – many of them not obviously linked to Council. It does not replace the official name of council, its coat of arms or its official seal.

In a statement Oliver Bryan, Investigations Coordinator at the Taxpayers' Union said the Council had allocated a “staggering $46,512 to ‘Strategy & Creative’ for the logo's design and development, with an additional $19,850 for signage guidelines development.”

"It's both startling and disheartening to witness such a significant portion of ratepayer money—equivalent to 24 years’ worth of the average residential ratepayer's rates in Hastings —being used on mere branding.”

“This comes as the average residential ratepayers' rates have gone up by 7% in the past year."

Bryan said that Councils were not corporations competing for market share.

“They are service providers funded by ratepayers. This kind of extravagant spending on branding starkly deviates from their primary responsibilities. It's high time councils prioritize tangible community benefits over transient branding exercises, particularly during times when pressing challenges, like cyclone recovery, loom large.”

“In an era where every dollar counts and communities confront genuine challenges, it's crucial for local councils to demonstrate fiscal responsibility.”

In response to the criticism, the Council’s Group Manager for Marketing, Communications and Engagements Naomi Fergusson said: “Councils promote the four well-beings, including economic wellbeing. They actively work to bring economic investment to their localities, attract visitors and build economic confidence.”

“Given the breadth and impact of council services on all residents’ everyday lives (contributing to social wellbeing and civic pride), the way Council communicates with people is important, from their interactions with customer service to receiving information that enables them to know about/use Council services to encouraging participation in Council planning and decisions.”

“Our cultural values are also expressed through our visual and written communications. All of this is set through the brand strategy.”

Fergusson says a strong brand for local government enhances trust, fosters community engagement, attracts investment and talent, facilitates effective communication, and contributes to overall positive governance and development.

Asked if the chosen design was the cheapest option available, Fergusson said it met the budget advertised to Government Electronic Tender Service (GETS).

“Overall the project budget was $60,000 and tenders were invited at $40k.”

Fergusson conceded that Cyclone Gabrielle would have some impact on “how funds are allocated to other projects”.

“As this was never intended to be an ‘overnight’ change, it doesn’t result in a change in approach.”

Wellington-based agency Strategy & Creative won the tender to design the new identity.

They are behind branding for Porirua City (full band) and Palmerston North City Council (signage), as well as destination marketing campaigns for Te Anau and Christchurch City, and advertising campaigns for government agencies including Waka Kotahi and ACC and projects for the Environmental Protection Agency and Te Arotake (Future for Local Government Review).