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Seeking an identity: Consultants outline branding research results for West Fargo

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A water tower in West Fargo. West Fargo is the City of Fargo's largest water customer. Chris Flynn / The Forum
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WEST FARGO — Residents of fast-growing West Fargo are proud of their city and its history. The only problem is they aren’t very good at promoting it.

Steve Chandler of ChandlerThinks, the city of West Fargo’s branding consultant, said while his company’s recent research found West Fargoans have a great deal of pride in their community, they are not very good at promoting that.

Chandler presented a quick outline of the company’s research at the Monday, Dec. 3, City Commission meeting and during a public meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Chandler said his work is more than creating a new logo or slogan for a city. He plans to help West Fargo find its identity and that will be done in four phases. Following the first phase of research and community surveys, the second phase includes working with city staff to decide the best way to work with the research results. That is followed by phase three, which is a creative development process, and the fourth phase is creating a plan to get the story of West Fargo out in the public.

The first phase began last year when ChandlerThinks was hired and circulated a survey out to residents as well as residents within a 70-mile radius of the city. A number of focus groups were also conducted with members of the community.

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Monday, Dec. 3, Chandler said more than 1,900 people participated in the early research and about 1,600 residents responded to the survey.

“That, I think, is the largest number of people that have participated in the 65 communities I’ve worked with over the last nine years,” Chandler said.

About 263 people outside of West Fargo responded to the survey as well.

From the research, Chandler said the overall key observation was that “West Fargo, no doubt about it, has been a city on the grow.” A city on the grow is West Fargo’s current motto.

Chandler said a city that is growing was among the top two things that participants mentioned when they discussed West Fargo.

“It’s time to be just more than a growing city,” Chandler said. “Your citizens are excited about being the city that is growing, but we want to be sure we preserve our identify and we’re not just known as a suburb.”

"Suburb” is not the moniker survey respondents want, Chandler said, but it is what the city has become.

“They want their own city beyond the shadow of Fargo,” he said.

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Along with a growing city, Chandler said research revealed that residents are very proud of their community, but when asked, many people could not elaborate on what is great about the city.

Chandler said one of the things consultants will be working on in the coming months is how to preserve and present the history of West Fargo.

“Your city history is precious and you need to celebrate it. It’s uniquely yours.”

Research found that the awareness of city history was rated very poorly. “It’s time to purposely harness its character so it’s expressed in all aspects of the community. Showing residents and everyone else it truly is a one of a kind,” Chandler said.

The City Commission agreed Aug. 3 to hire ChandlerThinks, LLC for more than $59,000 for the project. The consultant cost will be paid for through economic development sales tax funds.

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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