Two rounds of interviews and 18 applications from national and international firms later, Philadelphia officials picked a consultant that will help the city navigate through a “critical” step in its global identity project to make it more competitive.

And, for the family-owned firm’s chief executive, it’s been a long overdue project he’s been advocating for years.

In January, the Brookings Institution chose Philadelphia and three other U.S. regions to take part in a project testing how to define and communicate a global identity to compete for business and talent.

Philadelphia is the only region to get a consultant as part of the project, and city officials had a large pool from which to choose. They picked the Brownstein Group, the longest-running independent brand communication agency in Philadelphia. Brownstein will be tasked with helping conduct additional research and begin work on brand development.

The agency won the bid from a group of 18 applicants, which came from Philadelphia and beyond, including two from New York and another from Los Angeles.

“Their written proposal was excellent. This stage of the process is research and discovery — not much is graphic design — and they had a detailed proposal in terms of how they would do research and perception analysis, and learn about what Philadelphians, and people nationally and internationally think of Philadelphia,” said Sylvie Gallier Howard, first deputy commerce director.

Brookings’ preliminary analyses found Philadelphia’s reputation is still tied to its “history and tourism profile” that prevents it from being competitive on a global scale.

Brownstein Group will build off of that.

“They estimate 45 percent of the audience will be regional, 35 percent national and 20 percent global in terms of engagement and getting perception,” Gallier Howard said. “They put in a lot of thought in how they would do this.”

The first phase, Research and Discover, is a “critical” one, Gallier Howard said. “You shouldn’t start to develop a logo or brand until you do this in-depth analysis,” she said. “It would be putting the cart before the horse. Getting all this detail, and perception and stakeholder engagement at this stage is important.”

The city received $25,000 each from PACT and Ben Franklin Technology Partners for the execution of the first phase deliverables. Gallier Howard said Brownstein would help in raising additional funds.

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