SFPUC looks to gain attention with rebranding 

Within the offices of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, there is a common impression that only geeks know that the agency is responsible for three of The City’s major public utilities: water, power and sewage.

But a new brand and a green, yellow and blue logo could conceivably elevate the agency’s profile into the occasional everyday conversation. The right branding would take emphasis off its formal name while stressing the importance of what the agency’s does.

“One of the reoccurring problems is that a lot of people still don’t know the services we provide,” SFPUC spokesman Tyrone Jue said. “People may know we have our great Hetch Hetchy tap water, but they may not know we also provide municipal power.”

Jue said people often have a misconception that the SFPUC competes or is associated with the California Public Utilities Commission, a state agency that regulates power, telecommunications, transportation and water companies.

So Jue is suggesting that the commission gradually phase out and replace all its letterhead, employee badges, vehicle decals and business cards.

The transition would coincide with the agency’s new website, launching in summer, and a $37,000 project to replace employee badges with a streamlined access system.

The rebranding is just the latest of several such efforts by city agencies. In 2009, the Recreation and Park Department changed its logo from a leaf to a cartoon silhouette of a little girl sitting in a swing.

“The leaf?” Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg said. “Nobody knew what it was. It’s helpful for the public to be able to identify what the Rec and Park does and where.”

The change at the SFPUC could put a new face on agency projects such as providing public power, both for the Hunters Point redevelopment and as a possible future alternative to PG&E for residents.

Jue will present his suggestions to the commission today, and the agency might move forward with the new image depending on the feedback.

He laughed about whether the new acronym, WPS, might be interpreted by some people as “whoops.”

“I really haven’t considered that,” he said.


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Kamala Kelkar

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