By Donna Kemp Spangler
The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has existed for nearly 25 years, yet it is one of the most misunderstood agencies in state government. No, we are not the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We don’t regulate odors, sell Christmas tree permits, or put out wildfires. Smokey the Bear does not work for us.
We are the vanguard protecting Utah’s water, air and land. Our employees are hard at work when there is needed clean-up of environmental messes, past and present.
DEQ hopes to change common misperceptions while renewing our commitment of excellence to the individuals, families and communities of Utah. We hope to enhance awareness of our continuing mission: “Safeguarding human health and quality of life by protecting and enhancing the environment,” while providing the critical scientific data that will help ensure protection of Utah’s natural wonder.
On Nov. 18, Executive Director Alan Matheson introduced DEQ employees to the agency’s renewed brand promise and visual I.D which will more clearly define who we are and what we do. We also want you to know that we are listening. We understand your love for Utah and its unique environments, and we hope to better engage with you as the state’s most valued environmental partner.
When I’m talking about brand, I mean the mental image that pops into your mind when you think DEQ. It is not a catchy slogan. Put simply, our brand is both a promise of excellence and the way we are thought of. Our new look, including a logo, is the visual expression of those things.
Our new brand has been a year-in-the-making, backed up with market research. Coming to us with a marketing background, our Deputy Director of Communications Amy Christensen analyzed the results from numerous internal and external surveys, pulled concepts and insights from the data, and worked with Struck, who further refined DEQ’s brand strategy and developed all visual elements of the new “look and feel.” Struck is a local creative agency that received accolades for its ‘Mighty 5’ parks campaign for the Utah Office of Tourism.
Dannielle Blumenthal, director of Digital Engagement for the Office of Innovation at The National Archives, writes: “Branding is a “legitimate government activity.” She notes, “The distinction between government branding and branding in the private sector is that government branding always comes down to trust, whereas private sector branding is essentially about making a profit.”
And we are all about building trust.
As mentioned above, the greatest challenge facing DEQ is low awareness. For the most part, those people who are aware of the Department view us positively and eagerly want to know what they can do to improve the environment. Utahns have a sense of pride in living in a beautiful environment and they strive to protect it. In many ways, DEQ’s research reflects the findings of Envision Utah’s “Your Utah, Your Future” survey results.
The challenge ahead, however, is engaging more of the public in our efforts to improve air quality, drinking water and so on. There are not enough of us engaged.
So what is DEQ?
We are a state regulatory entity made up of scientists and engineers dedicated and vigilant about their responsibility to protect and enhance our environment. DEQ employees take pride in providing science-based information to help drive decisions that will make Utah a better place to live and work. We do this by taking a rational, reasonable and balanced approach in a thoughtful way that is responsive to the needs of Utahns. In essence, our brand says, “DEQ is a trustworthy source of reliable information from people who tirelessly work to protect Utah’s natural wonder in order to improve Utah communities, and the lives of individuals and families.”
DEQ’s Communications Office now faces the challenge of making the new brand part of every Utahn’s thought process. When you think DEQ, we want you to remember us as a trustworthy source of science-based environmental information important to each and every resident.
Every time you turn on your tap water, you have trust that it is safe to drink. We want to give you the information as to why it is safe to drink.
I welcome your input on DEQ’s new look. Comments and questions are encouraged. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment here on this blog.
I am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write a monthly blog post. You can follow me on Twitter.