Why Branding?

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Branding is at the core of marketing in the corporate world. It is a key component to building a loyal customer base that keeps coming back to purchase your good or service. Having the right brand can make or break your company. It can be something memorable as the Pillsbury Dough Boy or his big brother, the Michelin Man. The mere sight of either of these iconic figures reminds you of their parent company.

The wrong brand can hurt you as well. Even several decades later. Just look at Aunt Jamima (now Pearl Milling Company). Picking out the right brand needs to be done through a well-thought-out, well-vetted process. But there is no arguing in the corporate world that the right brand is important to the success of your business.

Communities are Getting into Branding

Interestingly enough, communities are turning to branding as well. Initially, it essentially started as a way to market communities for tourism. But communities are quickly realizing the importance of branding for reasons other than those who stop briefly in your community. Conveying a brand helps build a sense of unity among residents. It helps market the community for economic development purposes. Creating a memorable brand can have a dramatic impact throughout your community.

That is why spending the time and effort to create the right brand is so necessary. Your community needs a brand that resonates with all of what you are trying to do. Creating a brand that is entirely based on tourism can alienate your residents. Creating a brand that emphasizes bringing in new businesses may not sit well with your current businesses or event current residents as well. The brand needs to hit the mark in a way that gets everyone on board.

Branding Guidelines

Branding Guidelines, Courtesy – City of La Vista

More than a Logo

It is also important to understand that branding is not about a logo or seal. Especially, if you are thinking about a new seal. Forget it.  Your community is already far down the wrong path. The concept of a seal is dying.

Communities also get too hyper-focused on the logo as well. Yes, the logo is the most visible aspect and quite possibly the most important aspect of a branding scheme. But a brand is MUCH more than just a logo. There’s the catchy tagline. Something that summarizes to others what you want them to remember about your town. A tagline can stick in someone’s head just as much as the logo, if not more. Just look at these popular corporate taglines:

  • Nike – “Just Do it”
  • KFC – “It’s finger-lickin’ good”
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – “America runs on Dunkin’”
  • Bounty – “The Quicker Picker Upper”

Yet successful branding does so much more than create an effective logo or tagline that you can’t get out of your head. The fonts, the colors, and the more minute aspects of a brand can all have an impact. The use of the same fonts and colors in other manners can tie back to the community’s branding. These “small” details can have an impact on impressing your brand to others, more than you know.

Branding Colors

Branding Color Palette, Courtesy – City of La Vista

Don’t Go It Alone

A successful rebranding of a community doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You can’t go it alone and expect good results. The process can’t just stay inside the confines of the city’s administrative staff either. Reach out to the public, even if it is a select focus group of individuals. Reach out to your business community as well. The most successful brands incorporate local businesses in not only the creative rebranding process but in the implementation phase as well.

Even if it is cringeworthy for your Council or Board, it is a good idea to hire a consultant. Most city clerks or city administrators aren’t too graphically talented. Consultants can also look at your community from a different viewpoint. They know what will grab the attention of others through a new brand. A consultant is important for this process. Even if it isn’t a nationally known community branding firm like North Star, a local marketing firm can work.

Be Ready to Implement

Unlike some planning documents, if you have an engaged group of residents, they are likely going to expect immediate changes when a branding process has been completed. So start making plans on how you are going to start implementing before the process is even complete.

If you are working with a consultant, make sure on the front end that you expect some sort of toolbox at the end of the process to help implement. When done right this toolbox will save time and provide a consistent path to implementation of the brand in anything you are wanting to use it in.

Implementation won’t be cheap. It’ll also take some time, especially if your existing brand is widely used throughout the organization. There are many ways to implement your brand as well. There are likely many ways that your town hasn’t even tried yet with your existing brand. Prioritize where and when you want the brand to start having an impact.

Look for More

This introductory post on community branding is just the start. Rural Resurrection will be posting more articles in a series about community branding. So look out for more on this subject as branding is important to communities looking to improve!