The chairman of a new Derry-Strabane supercouncil committee said he wants the city’s name to be retained in the official new title as consultation begins on branding for the merger.
The supercouncil’s Governance and Strategic Planning Committee, chaired by SDLP Derry Councillor Gerard Diver, agreed on Monday to spend £30,000 on outside consultants to work on the new branding.
The consultants will be tasked to come up with options for a logo and brand which will be used to promote the new council in time for the merger taking effect in April 2015.
A total of 40 councillors- many of them also sitting Derry City Councillors and Strabane District Councillors- were elected to the new body in May, and they will have to decide the official name of the new district, which stretches from Castlederg to Eglinton.
The name is then expected to be incorporated into the new logo and branding.
The branding will have to be imprinted to everything from outdoor signage at boundaries and public facilities to council-owned vehicles, as well as on all correspondence and equipment. Websites, external promotional material and social media profiles will also have to be adapted or developed anew.
Mr Diver said the new supercouncil would now go out to tender for specialist designers, with the first draft of options to be reported back in mid-Autumn.
A final branding choice is due to be settled upon before Christmas.
This timeframe will allow the first four months of 2015 for the rebranding work to take place.
Mr Diver said it made sense to keep ‘Derry city’ as part of the name, and said that the money to pay for the project comes from a fund set aside by the councils for matters arising as a result of the merger.
Speaking about the name he said: “For me this is not a Derry versus Strabane issue. We have a city here, and for me it would seem strange to airbrush a city out of it. I would think Strabane will be given its place as well.
“There is a lot of dimensions to the branding. It is not just the issue of the name, This is about our corporate identity going forward and what people will identify with this new council.
“It’s a very important issue, and while this is a significant amount of money we need people with that specialist professional skills set.
“Hopefully once we do it we won’t have to re-do it for a very long period of time, and I know in relation to branding there are other organisations that spend a lot more money.
“We are also going to try and use Derry City Council’s own graphic design people wherever possible in this process.”
Mr Diver said that the new service would be a sort of business card for the region for engagement with services locally, and also externally in terms of promoting the region.
He added; “It is very important we have a sense of the place in what we are proposing. Trying to pluck something out of the air that bears no resemblance to the area would be a foolish thing to do.”