Over the past seven or so years the City of South Miami has been on a mission to re-brand the City of Pleasant Living, with Commissioner Josh Liebman leading the charge.
“For as long as I could remember, this city was lacking an identity,” says Liebman. “So as soon as I could, as a city commissioner, I took on the job of improving our image. After all, South Miami is a great place to live. I want people to know that. But mostly, I want us all to be proud of our hometown.”
For such a long-established city, at the epicenter of Miami-Dade County, one with such fragmented boundaries, he had a point. For the first time in its 90-year history, South Miami was on the road to getting a unified, impactful, and welcoming identity.
And so the work of boosting the brand of South Miami got underway, from creating a new city logo to refreshing the municipal website, and a whole lot in between.
“It started slowly, as people began to see the value of our efforts. But next, I really wanted to start installing branded street signs, so that people could know when they’re actually in the city and when you’re not. A lot of people say they live in South Miami and they really don’t,” Liebman said.
“But it’s mostly about raising the level of pride and uplifting the beauty of the city,” he added.
It’s worth noting, according to Liebman, that the street-sign program was one of the biggest municipal projects in the city to come in ahead of time and under budget.
Going down list, Liebman says it also was quite apparent that South Miami’s municipal parks also needed some TLC. He felt they were not only neglected but they, too, needed fresh new branding through attractive new signage.
“We had this terribly outdated logo still in place from the 60s or 70s,” he says, “which sent the wrong message about our town. After all, we’re a proud and socially progressive city, so let’s let people see that.”
The next natural step in the city’s branding revolution was to fund and install a set of highly visible “Welcome” signs.
“How can we be the City of Pleasant Living and not be welcoming,” Liebman said. From an economic-development standpoint alone, he sees enormous value in capturing the attention of the tens of thousands of commuters passing through the city every day along US-1.
“One day they are driving by, the next day they’re considering starting a business or a family here, or turning the corner to spend time and money in our shops and restaurants,” he said. “Sometimes it’s that simple.”
Eventually, the South Miami City Commission funded the project, and after working through some legislative hurdles along the way, a brand new, well-lit welcome sign is now in place. In fact, it’s hard to miss, positioned right in front of Fuch’s Park facing US-1 at the corner of SW 80th St.
“It’s a very tangible and satisfying way to show where taxpayer money is going. It’s a project that we can all be proud of, one that clearly demonstrates its worth.” In fact, in his own words, Liebman likes to call these types of municipal programs, Tangible Improvement Projects – or “TIPs” for short.
“But at the end of the day, it’s all about beautification and branding and people taking ownership and feeling a sense of pride,” he said.
Could this just be the TIP of the iceberg of city pride? Perhaps… Next on the agenda is installation of a second Welcome sign, over by Dante Fascell Park on the city’s boundary with Pinecrest.