Take a second to think about your community brand. What comes to mind when you imagine it? Maybe the logo or a community sign. You already know that we’ve got a lot more to say than that, so we’re going to answer the top five community branding questions.
Every community already has a brand; it’s based on the perception that lies within the hearts and minds of the residents, businesses and visitors. With strategic brand forms, you can positively shape that perception.
– Jeni Bukolt, Founder of Haven Creative
1. What is branding?
Branding often is thought of as a logo or a tagline, but it’s deeper than that. Branding is the perceptions that reside in the hearts and minds of the people that live, work, or visit a community. Therefore, a rebrand or branding campaign seeks to shape that perception positively. You can do that through the messaging, the logos, and, most importantly, delivering on that promise to your citizens.
2. Why is community branding important?
The idea is to positively shape that perception in the eyes of your visitors, residents, and people coming to your community. And you can do that through messaging and brand ambassadors. Those are the key people who embrace the core values and story of your community. They’re only going to embrace it if you get that grassroots buy-in from the community as a whole and hear what those stories are. Community branding also supports economic development. We’ll explain more with our next frequently asked question.
3. Who should lead community branding initiatives?
Most of the time, it’s going to be from the economic development department. Branding, in the community sense, is used for boosting the economic development of a particular area.
We have also seen communities partner with their chamber and businesses to build a lifestyle focused marketing website, which is great for telling the brand story – arts, dining, things to do, places to visit, etc. It can also be used to speak to potential developers looking to build in the area by showcasing available properties or tips on how to start a project in the area.
4. How long does a community rebrand take?
Branding takes time to become effective and to be embraced by a community. It typically takes 6-8 months to go through the initial branding process and then another year to spill into every area of your community. You have to have someone that owns it and makes sure the story and the visuals are consistent throughout every aspect of the organization for it to be successful. Changing the perception of the community in the minds of residents, businesses, and visitors is not easy, but if you are dedicated to the process, it can be done! Check out this blog to see how you measure your community’s brand awareness.
An analogy we like to use is community branding is like piling sand: If you don’t keep piling it up, it’ll slide back down. If you don’t continually apply the brand elements and speak to the brand elements, your campaign may not be embraced.
To ensure our community branding campaigns are embraced, we use the 8 to Great Maven Method. Our method ensures we build trust among the community and also protect and preserve its identity.
5. How much does a community rebrand cost?
Community branding, if done by a professional branding agency with experience in surveying, public input sessions, and more, will range from $20,000.00 -$100,00.00. The cost typically depends on how large the community is and how many projects and departments the design portion of the branding has to touch. Beware, if you are ready to invest in your branding, you’ll want to make sure you go with a reputable company that has a proven public input branding process and can provide measurable results. You don’t want your community to think you’ve spent thousands of dollars on a new logo — that’s not what branding is.
We also recommend rolling out your branding in small bits to create buy-in and to be fiscally responsible. This creates an opportunity to celebrate small accomplishments over time! There are plenty of ways to keep reintroducing the brand. But keeping it fresh and celebrating it over time is important.
Check out Haven Creative’s founder, Jeni Bukolt, on The Amazing Cities and Towns Podcast talking about this very subject. She covers these frequently asked questions above and offers some more insight on how to successfully brand your city.