Iowa League of Cities

The Challenge

To most people, cities seemingly operate behind a wall of bureaucracy; they’re intimidating, complicated, and boring.

But when people are well-informed about their local government and the role they play as residents, cities can run more efficiently and effectively.

When misconceptions take root, residents may resist changes that would ultimately be to their benefit. They may feel disengaged or decline to participate in local affairs. Or they may misinterpret actions made by city officials, leading to public backlash.

This lack of understanding, and thus engagement, is an all-too-common problem for city governments of all sizes—and one that the Iowa League of Cities wanted to address. That’s what led them to partner with de Novo.

Our Approach

Step one was to meet with the team from Iowa League of Cities to get a better sense of their brand, their challenges, and what they wanted to accomplish. They had two separate-but-overlapping goals:

  1. Find a way to support member cities’ communication efforts.

  2. Make all Iowa residents more aware of everything their city governments do for them.

After an intensive-but-energizing ideation session with both our teams, followed by research and creative brainstorming, we landed on a theme for a campaign that included fun, informative videos member cities could use to connect with residents.

The Work

“Simplicity: Your City, Simplified” was created to combat resident misconceptions and spark engagement.

The campaign, which included four videos, outlined in simple, unambiguous terms the various responsibilities of cities and how they impact residents. We broke down topics to make them easier to understand, with each video hosted by “Kidsplainers” who spoke directly to the audience using humor to lighten the mood, simplify the messaging, and aid in knowledge retention.

As we began filming and editing, we created a landing page as a resource to house all the videos and make them easily accessible to Iowa League of Cities members. The landing page also included sample social media copy with instructions on how to post the videos across various channels, making it easier for members to get full use out of these valuable assets.

The results

The videos provided cities with a fun and approachable way to educate their residents. In addition to helping people better understand what their city government does for them, the content empowered residents to become more civically involved.
Introducing the power of creativity, humor, and humanity allowed cities to tell their story in a meaningful way.

By humanizing city governments and services, city officials now have a fresh, more relatable approach to communicating with their residents.

The campaign raised the ceiling on what city communications can be: personable, transparent, and motivational—connecting and exciting residents, visitors, and legislators.

Our work helped the Iowa League of Cities educate and engage residents across Iowa, re-engage their member cities, and provided useful resources to support their own communication efforts.