Kim Newcomer, Slate Communications, provides substance to the trendy, but often hollow, suggestion that local government needs to tell a better story.
By Kim Newcomer – LinkedIn and Twitter
Every new parent has that moment. The one where you look lovingly at your newborn child and think, “What the hell am I supposed to do with this?”
And for those who have welcomed a shiny new, beautiful brand into your city family, I’m willing to bet you’re thinking the same thing.
No matter how well prepared you think you are for parenthood, the reality is you’re not. There’s the feeding, the changing, and yes, the crying. It can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Similarly, you probably thought you were ready for this new brand. You were LONGING for this brand. You wanted nothing more than a sharp logo, a pithy tagline, and visions of future marketing material. And now that you have them, you need to figure what to actually DO with it.
The Cold Hard Truth
The reality is that most marketing companies love to create brands. Brands are ethereal; a brand is a collection of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions about a community that are expressed and delivered through consistent visuals and messaging.
Truth be told, it is downright intoxicating to help a community figure out exactly who they are and how to communicate those unique qualities.
But when the logo, key messaging, and design concepts are done, that’s when the real work begins. And that, my friends, is often when many marketing companies make their exit. As a community, you’re left with a beautiful packet of ideas and zero guidance as to how to bring those ideas to life.
So what’s a local government leader to do? Here’s a quick list:
First things first, pat yourself on the back. If you’ve managed to create a brand that is fully embraced by your organization and community, you should celebrate. It’s no easy task, and it should not go overlooked. Go ahead, celebrate, we’ll wait.
OK, party’s over. It’s time to get to work. The easiest path toward brand implementation is to integrate the new elements into existing organizational items.
Start with Electronic
Website headers, enewsletters, digital stationary templates, social media images – identify your assets that can be changed easily and quickly. Whether you only have the capacity to change out logos or you have the resources to completely redesign your electronic tools start with the low hanging fruit.
Move on to Print
Inevitably, you’ll have stacks of old business cards, brochures, flyers, etc. that will need to be updated. The most cost-effective and environmentally friendly approach is to simply wait until a re-print is necessary, then incorporate you new brand. If you don’t have that kind of patience, then make sure you have a really big recycling bin.
End with Facilities
These are the big ticket items: gymnasium floors, exterior building signage, wayfinding, etc. Every community takes a different approach. Some decide to bite the bullet and replace as much as their budgets will allow. Others prefer to integrate the brand into facilities only when the existing replacement schedule calls for new signage. It’s a big investment, but also a wonderfully visible demonstration of a brand coming to life.
This is where the real fun begins. Now you have the opportunity to think about what marketing strategies, materials, events, programs, social media tactics, etc. will really show your community and others what this brand is all about. Perhaps it’s time to invest in economic development marketing, launch a redesigned website, or dip a toe into the world of Instagram. Whatever the new tools you choose to create, remember to always be true to your audience. A solid brand can be applied to social media just as easily as print materials; be cognizant of audience segments and make sure you’re talking to them on their level.
Real Life Examples
Slate helped Englewood develop a new brand over the summer with a big focus on community engagement, fiscally responsible logo replacement, and new tools to reach new audiences. Armed with a brand platform and new visuals, Englewood is just now starting to implement their new brand and marketing strategy, with a website re-design on the work plan for 2016.
The Town of Avon has a beautiful brand that they adopted just over a year ago. They’ve consistently replaced the old logo with a new one and have invested in community signage. As a next step, Slate is helping them develop a comprehensive marketing plan to more thoroughly and systematically build brand awareness within the community and beyond. Want to do the same? Here’s their RFP.