Creating an authentic, engaging and sustainable brand is an important step for a community. Engaging in a brand campaign is a huge decision. The investment of time and money is substantial. A small town’s budget is asked to provide an amazing array of services to residents and business owners. Deciding on spending priorities is an annual exercise for town managers and elected officials and funds are always stretched. So it is very important to recognize whether or not your community is ready to make that investment in developing a formal brand strategy.
There are several things that need to be in place for a successful branding initiative.
Product—what are your community assets? What is your point of distinction? Do you have a handle on these elements? Do you need to develop your product in order to build your brand?
People—who is on board to help move the project forward? Gathering a group of engaged residents and business owners that will commit to a long-term project is critical. Do you have such a group? Are they willing to invest in this project? Do they work well together for the common good?
Partnership—community branding requires the collaboration of the civic, business and municipal sectors in a town. Creating a strong brand requires that the entire community believes in the reputation you are trying to build for your town. There needs to be excellent communication, a spirit of cooperation and shared goals between those groups of people. Are you there yet?
Planning—building and maintaining a brand is an investment. Have you thought through the impact of creating a new logo, website and marketing materials? Have you planned in your budget for these improvements? What will need to be updated as a result of the new identity? What services will you need to hire to create, implement and maintain your brand? What resources do you have in your community?
Persistence—brand building is not a one-time set of activities. In order to create and sustain a successful brand, town staff and elected officials, residents and business owners must buy in to the brand concept and act as brand ambassadors for the life of the brand. The shared responsibility that sustains a brand has to be continuous.
If the answers to these questions show you that you are ready for a branding project, we’d love to talk to you! If you find that you have work to do before you should begin an initiative, consider the points in this article and start working on them. Successfully addressing the questions of product, people, partnership, planning and persistence will put you on the path to building an authentic brand and reaping the benefits of a strong reputation.