Spaceworks Tacoma is seeking a PR agency to assist with Brand Development, Communications and Community Engagement

Spaceworks Tacoma is seeking a PR agency to assist with Brand Development, Communications and Community Engagement

Spaceworks’ Story: Simply filling empty storefronts with creative ideas wasn’t enough to address the underlying challenges to Tacoma’s economic success. Spaceworks needed to address the challenges businesses faced. In response, Spaceworks developed a business training program for its participants.

By helping creative entrepreneurs navigate permits, licenses, business plans, and marketing, Spaceworks addressed the nuts and bolts obstacles to success for fledgling local businesses. Further, Spaceworks reached into communities that have been historically underrepresented in business. Expanding beyond the downtown corridor and recruiting otherwise untapped individuals, Spaceworks embraced a model that blended creative ideas and business basics. This provided valuable education and opportunities to a diverse group of entrepreneurs, expanding the range and vision of Tacoma’s local businesses.

Now, Spaceworks graduates 24 well-trained and road-tested independent business owners every year. Recent graduates are partnered with property owners in need of tenants. The original businesses that develop through Spaceworks provide viable business anchors in a few strategic neighborhoods. At the same time, the art installation program provides atmosphere and improved aesthetics to areas that have potential, but need a higher profile.Six years after its birth Spaceworks has nearly everything in place for a successful local art and business initiative.

However, there is one critical piece that still needs placement: the public. Despite internal changes to the Spaceworks program, the majority of people still think of Spaceworks as “art in windows” and “free rent for creative small businesses”. Those who know about the business training Spaceworks offers often believe the city provides all the financial support.

In order to keep Spaceworks strong in its mission to make Tacoma culturally vibrant and economically strong through training and support for artists and creative entrepreneurs, the program needs the financial support of the public. That support must come both through direct donations to Spaceworks and customer support of Spaceworks businesses. In addition, potential artists and creative entrepreneurs need to see the Spaceworks program as a successful way to achieve their business goals. Spaceworks needs a communication plan to reach potential financial supporters, enthusiastic customers, and diverse artists and creative entrepreneurs. Those audiences need to know that Spaceworks businesses represent well-trained, community-supported opportunities for funders, customers, and entrepreneurs. They need to know that there are unique, exciting experiences available to them by supporting Spaceworks and seeking out its businesses.

SCOPE: Partner With Spaceworks To

  • Evaluate and establish Spaceworks brand
  • Create a comprehensive Communications & Community Engagement Strategy
  • Increase program clarity, visibility, and engagement
  • Customize communications for various audiences such as program participants, community participants, funders, etc. which will include content for the website, social media channels, and other identified engagement platforms.
  • Design a new, brand relevant, responsive/mobile-friendly, website that accounts for a variety of existing and new content and also allows Spaceworks staff to manage site in an ongoing basis.


Spaceworks Tacoma launched in 2010 as a way of addressing downtown Tacoma’s commercial vacancies by offering local artists and creative entrepreneurs spaces for artwork display and pop-up businesses. As a joint initiative of the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma- Pierce County Chamber, Spaceworks sought to address the challenges common to both artists and entrepreneurs and developed a business training program for its participants to help them navigate permits, licenses, business plans, and marketing. Now, Spaceworks graduates 24 well-trained and road-tested, independent business owners every year. Recent graduates are partnered with property owners in need of tenants. Through property partnerships, national and community funding, training and support the program incubates successful creative businesses nurtured by a strong support ecosystem.


Spaceworks Tacoma requests proposals from various creative design firms to select the most qualified candidate who best represents the mission and vision of Spaceworks. The selected creative company will be asked to work in close collaboration with Spaceworks’ brand management staff in redefining the Spaceworks brand with options for updating the look (including web and print collateral), community engagement strategy and phased implementation assistance. They are seeking proposals that address three areas of focus: Communications & Community Engagement Strategy, Brand Development, and Website Update.

Communications & Community Engagement Strategy

Spaceworks seeks a creative company to develop a communications strategy that staff can implement to advance its 5 strategic goals. The strategy may involve social media marketing plan, blog schedule, email and “snail” mail communications, enewsletter redesign, or other ways of engaging key audiences.

Spaceworks staff identified three key audiences:

  1. Funders
    • Corporate sponsors, multi-organizational collaborations focused on Economic Development and Tourism, individual donors and grantors
    • Property owners that provide low-rent spaces as a means to support this effort
  1. Clients
    • Spaceworks coordinates regular application calls to attract and serve creative entrepreneurs and artists as potential clients
    • Spaceworks has a growing list of clients who receive ongoing marketing and technical support
  1. Customers of our clients / visitors to public art sites and events
    • Our clients have a diverse range of creative businesses including non-profit, retail, and business to business services. We would like their customers to understand the relationship between Spaceworks Tacoma and the entrepreneurs it serves.
    • Spaceworks believes that public art provides a big value to the Tacoma community. The outcome of these creative efforts is to create a more dynamic, inclusive and livable community. This type of creative placemaking is vital to our city’s success.
    • They need to know that their support of Spaceworks is critical to deliver these unique, exciting experiences. Seeking out and supporting these ventures is vital to the vibrancy of the city.

The communication strategy must incorporate ways of reaching and engaging potential financial supporters, enthusiastic customers, and a diverse pool of artists and creative entrepreneurs. Those audiences need to know that Spaceworks businesses represent well- trained, community-supported opportunities that make Tacoma culturally vibrant and economically strong.

The strategy may include:

  • Brand Book and Style Guide and documented Marketing Strategy
  • Media relations policy
  • Profiles of receivers/consumers of services/products of Creative Enterprises
  • Clarified communication about our programs: Creative Enterprises, Artscapes, and Gallery Exhibitions
  • 1120 Creative House and Spaceworks Gallery marketing plans
  • Negating false perception that we are funded solely by “government handouts”
  • Website redesign to offer a wealth of resources connecting entrepreneurs and artists with economic opportunities
  • Reaching and engaging Tacoma and surrounding communities

Brand Development

Spaceworks has set the stage for a thriving, local, creative economy. Now Spaceworks needs to increase the clarity and visibility of its brand so that its target audiences – funders, customers, and creative entrepreneurs – see the program as a rewarding opportunity for Tacoma to come together with the goal of fostering a more culturally vibrant and economically strong community.


Spaceworks seeks to update its brand to communicate the Spaceworks vision of providing high-quality programs and services, and its strong track record of incubating successful creative businesses. Impressive small business growth and jobs stem from smart, diverse, and passionate business owners whose creativity is nurtured by a strong support ecosystem. The brand needs to communicate that Spaceworks is an integral part of this dynamic ecosystem.


In addition, the brand needs to communicate the Spaceworks mission of making Tacoma culturally vibrant and economically strong through training and support for artists and creative entrepreneurs.


The new brand should communicate Spaceworks Values:

  • Entrepreneurial Spirit: Spaceworks supports creative risk-takers in growing their businesses in Tacoma.
  • Innovation and Creativity: Spaceworks builds a vibrant, creative and innovative community.
  • Diversity and Equity: Spaceworks represents diverse people, voices, and perspectives, and provides fair access to creative economic opportunities.
  • Collaboration: Spaceworks partners with organizations and individuals to achieve a collective vision.

Spaceworks seeks brand development proposal that addresses the following objectives:

  • Evaluation of existing brand and development of new brand
  • Maintain Spaceworks image while promoting individual Creative Enterprises
  • Send the message that devoting resources to the arts and creatives is a viable and proven strategy for economic, business, and community development. Draw in donors, property owners, participants and consumers

Deliverables: Focused on efficiently achieving desired outcomes

  • Print and Digital Collateral Designs appropriate to help achieve desired outcomes within budget.
  • Marketing Fact Sheet and history (via strategic report)
  • Website

Foundational Brand Imperatives

Since Spaceworks launched in 2010 the program relied on the multitasking abilities of small staff to communicate their programs, services, and successes to respective audiences.

The brand is currently represented by a consistent use of logo, minimal graphic elements, reliance on photo-collages of its clients and projects, dominating monochromatic color scheme, and highlighting the successes of our clients above our work. The use of logo is the most consistent brand element appearing in web and print publications, balloons, on supported storefronts, murals, and Artscapes, as well as monthly enewsletter to mention a few. In October 2015 Spaceworks hired LUMA consulting firm to facilitate the development of a 5-year strategic plan. Using surveys and interviews of Spaceworks’ stakeholders the research phase identified the need to increase both clarity and visibility of our brand and its impact on the Tacoma community.

Spaceworks’ Strategic Planning process identified five key Organizational Goals:

  1. Build a culturally vibrant and economically stronger community.
  2. Advance economic opportunities for artists and creative entrepreneurs.
  3. Build programs and services that reflect the diversity of Tacoma.
  4. Increase the clarity and visibility of our brand.
  5. Establish long-term sustainability for Spaceworks.

Proposal due by Wednesday, March 15, 2017 to:
Heather Joy at
Spaceworks Tacoma
c/o Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber 950 Pacific Ave, Ste 300
Tacoma WA 98402

Allison & Partners maintains a presence in Washington, as does APCO Worldwide and Edelman.

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