Is your brand aligned with your strategic plan?

Community brands shouldn’t experience seismic shifts regularly, or at all. A community’s broader DNA and reputation often travel with time, taking into account its history, people, natural assets and other characteristics that make the place distinctively unique. 

However, at the right times, smaller changes that account for a community’s evolution and advancement, as well as the needs of the marketplace around it, are a smart and welcomed pivot.

For example, many communities have or are striving to discover new value propositions in the post-pandemic economy. Some regions are growing, some are stagnant and others face an economic decline. No matter where they fall on that spectrum, communities have been forced to rethink their positioning strategies to compete for their fair share of talent, jobs and investment.

A subsequent result from this economic shift is that many communities have launched renewed strategic planning processes to help them reach their evolving preferred futures. These plans often establish economic and quality of life opportunities, as well as key performance indicators, that the communities seek to capitalize on within 10-15 years.

Whether it’s a new strategic plan or one that was created years ago and is being implemented or tweaked, a brand and communications program helps to give a community’s strategic vision more context and opportunities to advance it. Too often, a community aims to progress without a defined story that aligns with its plans for the future.

That story is much more than a community seal or flag, as well as a logo. Each community needs to identify what is ownable, unique and authentic about its place, then market it through a variety of channels in support of its strategic plan. 

Investors, employers, residents and other stakeholders in the strategic plan must understand what the community stands for, where it’s going and what’s in it for them. A defined brand DNA and story will make a big difference.

A strong case study of how a strategic plan and community brand should work together is present in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. 

To build and envision the future of the city, Buffalo Grove launched “Moving BG Forward,” a combination of major initiatives that involve a variety of long-term planning, including a strategic plan and community branding. Through this approach, Buffalo Grove is ensuring who they are and where they are going are in full alignment. 

If your brand story was last touched 20 years ago, it may not align with where you are and where you’re going as a community. Or, if a seal or flag is serving as your ‘brand,’ it’s a great time to take the next step in how you articulate the soul of your community.As we continue to navigate the new economy, consider your community’s goals for the future and if you’re telling the right story to the right people. We can help you do it.