Municipal leaders and economic development professionals recognize the importance of having an effective brand for their community. They also recognize that branding is more than having an attractive visual identifier or logo.
An interesting way of looking at branding is as if it was an iceberg. The part you see – the 10% – is the logo, the marketing materials, the website, etc. This is where promises are made, and where the community usually makes its first impression. It could be referred to as its ‘Brand Expression’.
But the 90% under the water is even more significant. How the community deals with its stakeholders; how it responds to requests; the programs and incentives it offers. What kind of experience do residents and visitors – and investors – have when they deal with the municipality? We can call this the ‘Brand Experience’.
Ideally, the top and bottom match! A brand is not sustainable if there are gaps between promise and performance.
The welcoming messages in the literature should reflect a welcoming community in reality. The promises made in the promotional campaign will come to life when a visitor experiences the community for the first time. The claims of a catchy tagline are supported by testimonials from real people.
Municipal branding is a dynamic, 360-degree, multi-level, corporation-wide, holistic marketing process that starts from within, and spreads outward to the target audience.
The brand should reflect the marketing plan. Done well it serves to attract interest, build trust, provide solid value and generate lasting relationships.