Be Careful How You Use the ‘B’ Word

You’ve heard us say it before: branding has a branding problem. To the average person, branding equates to a logo and tagline. That (inaccurate) definition on its own can often make it quite difficult to receive municipal approval on the financing of a branding project. Let’s face it, on the surface, “branding” sounds squishy.

These conversations can become political quickly, especially when constituencies, understandably, have other concerns they want addressed and funded in the community. As a result, communities need a smart public affairs approach when considering a community branding project.

First and foremost, it might mean changing how you ‘brand,’ or name, the project. The ‘B’ word is an explosive term that doesn’t fully demonstrate the project’s scope and impact, and is a surefire way to quickly gain opposition when proper context isn’t given.

Instead, consider a project name – such as ‘strategic growth initiative’ – that speaks to the economic and community benefits that will be supported by the brand.

That doesn’t mean hiding from the elephant in the room. Use ‘branding’ when describing the project in a setting that allows you to give proper context. That is your opportunity to educate leaders and residents on the results of a successful branding project and how the community brand is ultimately an effective tool for achieving higher-order objectives. Those objectives are often related to vital economic goals such as jobs and investment, resident and talent attraction, tourism development and downtown development.

It’s also an opportunity to share all of the elements of a community brand. Beyond the logo, a brand, when maximized, uncovers a community’s DNA, helping foster distinctiveness, unity and a singular identity.

Additionally, there are a variety of ways a brand should be activated, even three dimensionally. Every community has a unique story. Sharing that story in an inspiring way helps drive the actions and behaviors that support your long-term goals. The brand brings that story front and center for residents and those considering you from afar. Whether that’s through community landmarks, wayfinding signage, other creative implementations and even policy setting, decision makers need to see and understand the full power and potential of a community brand – because the logo and tagline are the least of it!

So, invest time before required council votes or public input on the project’s financing, educating the right people on these key points. Give detailed one-on-one or group presentations on the objectives behind the project, and all of the elements and benefits of a community brand. Only use the ‘B’ word when you can explain it properly.

By doing so, you will minimize opposition and start off on the right foot. We’ve helped many communities navigate this process. Let us know if we can help you.