After the holiday dust has settled and the decorations have all been put away, many cities feel the pressure to determine what’s next? While the winter months are considered the shoulder season for many cities, the New Year can also be the perfect time to start implementing a sound civic branding and economic development plan. Prior to putting that plan into stone, consider the following:
- Highlight the downtown area – Whether it’s Downtown or Main Street, future growth plans should strongly consider how to develop a unique civic brand. Today’s consumers are all about connectivity and engagement, so work to create a downtown that works to connect other destinations, while maintaining its place in a unified economic community.
- Strive for community – The development of a strong community needs to start with an integrated approach that combines community consultation and the explanation of what the city’s vision is for a unique brand identity. When seeking insights from your community members and leaders, work to determine who makes up your target audience, what their experience has been like and what their overall perception is of your town and its offerings.
- Mind the research – Once you’ve put together a sound community group, a research process should be implemented in order to gather useful insights about your cities brand identity and reputation. Personal interviews, surveys, monitoring social media and paying attention to review sites; will all help determine whether your brand or proposed brand aligns with the experience that people have when visiting your city or town.
- Plan your Q&A – During the research phase of your planning process, a number of questions should be considered; 1. How does your downtown or main street stand out? 2. How would people rate the overall atmosphere and amenities of your city? 3. Why do people feel affection for the city? and 4. How can that feeling be communicated to tourists and visitors?
- Apply your findings – Once you have a good representation of the facts (strive to get at least a 10% response rate), compare the responses and look for certain trends. The survey data should give you a good idea of whether your “current brand” is effective or if it needs to be revamped to meet your civic and economic goals. Ultimately, this process will help you develop an effective civic brand message that will help promote your city and drive economic growth and pride.