Five Big Results to Expect From Rebranding
By: BBG Brand Team
What is the payoff for a city or other place-based entity that invests in branding?
Actually, before looking at the payoff, think about why you need branding? After all, every city, airport and museum already has a brand. For better or worse, anyone who knows anything about your place has it pegged as ‘something’. The ‘something’ may create brand champions, disinterest or in some cases a perception that it should be avoided at all costs.
Urban decay, either now or expected, is an obvious motivation. A better question is how do you avoid decay and what are the signs your city or place is vulnerable? A few simple questions will provide a strong directional answer.
Warning Signs That Your Place May Need Help
- Is your population growing?
- Do graduates stay in the area, or leave for better opportunities?
- Is there high participation in public service (elections, city board meetings)?
- If museums, parks, or live theatre are part of your community, is attendance growing?
- Were at least 7% of current jobs created during the past two years?
Other basic questions deal with unemployment, healthcare, addiction rates, and crime. But for a start, if you answered no to any of these five questions consider commissioning a Brand Snapshot©. This is topline research that looks at these questions and the attitudes of stakeholders and other interested parties. The Snapshot should be conducted by a third party firm (Not from your city) trained in understanding the questions to ask when determining what role branding and placemaking might have in revitalizing your community. Make sure that your brand helps grow champions, not disinterest or worse.
Museums and Branding
When Mark Albin, Newark Museum deputy director of marketing and public relations, started his new job, he faced low numbers all around – in awareness, attendance and funding. He walked into what seemed like an overwhelming challenge. But Mark knew, as Saba Salman, writing for The Guardian, knew: “Successful branding (or rebranding) can turn a city or other location into a place where people want to live, work or visit. We’ll visit the results of the Museum’s efforts later in this article.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Don’t think that the size of your community somehow immunizes you against economic change. Global competition is not limited to big cities but directly affects all cities. The speed of globalization has to lead to a situation where the main competition for your city, museum or hotel is no longer twenty miles down the Interstate, but anywhere around the world. “Successful branding”, says Robert Jones, consultant director at international brand consultancy Wolff Olins, “can turn a city into a place where people want to live, work and visit. A strong identity is vital if you are vying for other places for attention in tourism and business or relaunching an area after a regeneration initiative.”
Five Benefits from Branding
We have found that the most often documented benefits places like yours have experienced are a result of their branding efforts. These are strong selling points to use when seeking support from those skeptical about the ROI of branding.
- Attract investors and visitors: An example is the The Newark Museum story. Three years into their branding program, they enjoyed a third straight year of double-digit percentage increases in attendance. Some shows generated even bigger gains. During the second year the spring exhibit generated 112% higher attendance than the previous year. Large increases in giving are expected now and in the future.
- Engender civic pride: There are two sides to this – first, when cities begin to lose their appeal the people who live there don’t feel good about where they live. The other side of the card is a community that has enjoyed so much success that they have begun to lose their identity. The nice little town that everyone loved is now a place that undirected growth has changed. Branding provides a guide to maintaining identity.
- Disassociates your town from past failures, social or other problems: Look at Birmingham or Pittsburg. Chattanooga, now the knowledge-worker community, was known twenty years ago as the dirtiest city in America.
- Equips cities to compete for talent and jobs. Without a story relevant to today’s economic needs your community will be ignored. Focusing on your strengths, your vision and crafting communications to the economic development ecosystem will provide you a seat at the table.
- Protects the city from future losses in jobs, talent, population and tax revenues. The outcome desired is similar in most places: Attract a talented workforce; create jobs; increase visitors; maintain those things we value about our community. (This article provides some examples of successful community rebranding.
If you are responsible for helping drive the economic success of a city, airport, museum or hotel you’ve probably experienced challenges with funding. Specifically, problems getting the resources to support sufficient staff and budgets to retain a quality place-making consultant and branding organization. Hopefully, the examples given above will be useful when making the case for support. BBG is experienced at making the case for branding to boards, directors and committees. For a discussion about this send us a note: http://bbgintegrated.com/contact/
We’ll be happy to help.