It amazes me the level of talent that flows over and through Branding Strategy Insider. So it just makes sense to try and harness the current and rally this exceptional group.
This is the first Branding Rally in which we will analyze real-world branding issues and share ideas for the greater good. My hope is that we’ll pool our experiences and all will be better for it.
The focus of this rally is Place Branding. Specifically Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Ed Roach is the resident branding expert and is in the early stages of discovering who Windsor’s target audiences are and what can be owned in their minds.
Ed and I are hoping to hear from you as well as Eli Portnoy, Marcia Hoeck, and Alan Williamson.
I think a good place to start is to share our process. The Blake Project has experience in this area with Tampa, Florida and are in the place branding process with a few other cities.
Typically we begin with a brand audit which ideally includes a full research component. We talk to all of the most important target audiences. Depending upon the scope of the project, this usually includes current and potential residents, current and potential businesses, tourists, conference/event planners, etc.
With this insight we move to the brand positioning phase where we lead key stakeholders through a unique and highly facilitated discovery process designed to build consensus around what the brand stands for and why target audiences would choose it over competing brands.
This phase includes a pre-workshop questionnaire to gain input from a broader group of stakeholders and influencers. This is important to gather additional insights and to rally those that will not be invited into the workshop which is best conducted with a group of 6 to 12 participants.
On the day of the workshop we discover the brand’s most important target audiences, the brand’s essence, competitive frame of reference, brand promise and brand personality. Key to the exercise is identifying the most unique and compelling benefits (functional, emotional, experiential and self-expressive) that the municipality can own and deliver to its target audiences.
We believe that the primary brand benefit chosen should deliver against these objectives:
-The benefit is extremely important to the target audience(s).
-The municipality has unique, sustainable competencies (and strategic intent) in delivering against the benefit.
-Competitors are not delivering against the benefit (nor would it be easy for them to do so in the future)
-Any benefit chosen is unique, compelling, motivating, understandable and believable.
Ideally, the brand tries to ‘own’ only one or two key benefits, as that is all decision makers in the target audience will remember.
As an integral part in this process it is imperative that we ensure that the brand has selected the most powerful benefits to own and that it has developed the proof points and reasons to believe for those benefits.
The strongest place brands are positioned to be relevant, unique and compelling and are built by community leaders, stakeholders, and organizations that promote the competitive advantage by speaking with a unified voice. Economic Development Organizations, Convention and Visitor Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and Government bodies are all in synch with each other when communicating the brand promise.
The community delivers on the promise because it’s who they really are.
The output of the Brand Positioning Workshop serves among other things as a guide to brand communications. It is condensed in a one-page brand positioning statement (which is also known as a USP, Unique Selling Proposition) that reveals brand essence, brand promise and brand personality.
The Results of the Workshop:
-Focus leadership team
-Inform and rally community stakeholders
-Guide branding, and external communication efforts
-Underlie brand identity (including tag line)
The tagline should capture the essence of the brand’s promise in an economy of words. It should be magnetic to target audiences, communicate the brand position, be unique, easy to pronounce, easy to remember, and be defendable.
We commonly see two approaches to tagline development for municipalities in transition.
A. Credibility Approach: The tagline recognizes and communicates that the brand is in a process of growth. The tagline celebrates the transformation, builds momentum to see it through and is magnetic to target audiences.
B. Visionary Approach: The tagline communicates the emotional benefit of living in the city after its transformation, and is magnetic to target audiences.
In some cases articulating the brand positioning with a transitional tagline followed by a related, yet definitive tagline can work.
What are your thoughts on Place Branding and the process? What challenges have you encountered? What advice can you give the Windsor community stakeholders?
The Blake Project Can Help: The Brand Positioning Workshop
Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Growth and Brand Education