Your community brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. It is a combination of emotional and intellectual reactions to all the different experiences, marketing communications and behaviors people have encountered on behalf of your community. Branding is the process a community embarks upon to change, refine or improve what people are saying.
The idea of community branding is deceptively simple: use a community’s greatest strength to create a consistent memorable identity that will help propel the city to its preferred future. However, the process of branding is much more complex. The best identities are grounded in reality but aspirational in vision. They bridge the past and the present with an eye toward the future. They are uncovered and brought to life through a process that unites rather than divides. And they serve the interests of diverse groups within the community with different agendas.
Of course, branding is not a panacea for all ills. It cannot eradicate racial discord or turn a culturally desolate city into a cultural mecca. What branding can do is focus people on the positive differentiator in your community, which can help it stand out relative to the competition. And that differentiator does not necessarily have to be a huge visible asset like endless retail or incredible skiing. Perhaps your community boasts a more relaxed pace or excellent value for families. Creatively presented in a unique and memorable way, these characteristics can make people want to spend their time, their money . . . even their lives there.
The North Star approach to community branding is a comprehensive process that combines research/strategy, creativity and action. Not only does this methodology allow for seamless transitions between phases, it allows for collaboration amongst different skill sets at every stage of the initiative. Quite simply, more brain power from different perspectives makes for a better product.
Our approach is so flexible it works for communities of all shapes, sizes and footprints. North Star has successfully branded tiny villages with fewer than 5,000 residents and major cities of more than 500,000. We have branded villages, towns, cities, counties, regions and states for the purposes of tourism, economic development or to create a consistent community-wide identity that supports the missions of all the public sector entities.