Posted by: FBRuralDevelopment | 06/29/2010

Attracting visitors by branding your community

Every community that wants visitors to return to their town needs to think about what those visitors say upon returning home and plunking their travel stuff down on the kitchen table.  Giving your community a brand or a slogan helps visitors think about your town the way YOU want them to.

 What do you make of these brands? These communities gave themselves these slogans because they know that it benefits them in some way.

Jumbo Shrimp Capital of the World (Morgan City, LA)

In Season Every Season (Clemson , SC)

Rodeo Capital of the World (Cody, WY)

The Icebox of the United States (International Falls, MN)

 And then there are the state slogans of “Don’t Mess With Texas,” “Virginia is for Lovers,” and Montana’s “Big Sky Country.”

 According to North Star Idea’s website, “branding moves communities from good to great. One of the most neglected responsibilities of community governments and leaders is the job of building a reputation that is fair, honest and powerful. Whether leading a small town or a world power, leaders owe it to their individual and institutional constituents to dig out the “competitive identity” of their region.

 “This identity comes from the history, the culture, the geography and the society of the place – as such, it should be an accurate reflection of the genius and the will of the people. A brand is not created; it is discovered within the spirit of a place.”

 North Star Ideas likes to say that a brand is “what people say about you when you’re not around….Your brand is the mixture of attributes – tangible and intangible – that create value and influence. From a marketing or consumer perspective, “value” is “the promise and delivery of an experience.” (And if your brand promises an experience, your community better deliver!) Your community’s brand helps consumers (residents, businesses and tourists) distinguish you from other cities in the marketplace.

 At the 2009 Small Town and Rural Development Conference (no location given in the presentation I found online), Ed Burghard says, “I believe a brand is a promise. You look somebody square in the eye, you tell them what is reasonable to expect if they invest money in your community, you shake their hand with conviction. Branding is all about ensuring the experience you promised is realized. Your brand image is the current perception of your community. Your brand identity is what you want your community to stand for, or how you want it to be perceived by the people in it and the people outside of it.”

 On the TexasYes website, CoCo Good, director of communications and marketing, City of McKinney, says “A city cannot be something it is not, but with careful planning, the right research, and an innovative and creative approach – an expression of who a city is should shine in its brand.”

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