Recently the city of Manchester announced it was interested in a rebrand. And while there are some exceptionally talented agencies in the Queen City, the road forward is not an easy one. The key in rebranding is that the farther you get from a place, the less people know about it. And while Manchester has world class museums and eateries, it is not on travel bucket lists - often overshadowed by places like Portsmouth, Portland and Burlington.
One huge challenge in branding a place is the name is public. So, folks can say whatever they want to about a place. That means the hard part is to get consistency. So the city, the chamber, and local attractions need to use the same brand description. But a city does not own its name, and building consensus in a new brand in a community can be a challenge.
Don't rebrand, reintroduce it. For many outside of a region or city, the brand concept for a place may be spotty. But the key is that the brand be based in truth — and things that people will associate freely. Manchester, for example, is the birthplace of the chicken tender, known for its mill district, its Frank Lloyd Wright houses and thriving food scene. That's a lot to build a brand on.
When we kicked off the VisitConcord effort a few years ago we were careful not to position it as a new brand, but rather an effort to get the word out about Concord. That’s because information is the road to rebrand. A brand is what people associate with a place. If you don't set the tone of the brand, people will do it on their own, and you may not like the result.
That said, here are 4 steps to a build successful brand:
1. Magic Sauce Every place has something that is special or unique. That sets you apart from the rest, and that is the right place to start.
2. Values A unique identity is based on what you value. Art, food, diversity, film, shopping, sports — come up with a list and do the research to see how your key markets see you, and find the disconnect — and address it.
3. Targeted outreach Who are your people, where do they live, and how do they form opinions? Find your sweet spot and target it: Smart PR, digital ads, word of mouth. And remember that can include inclusion and more than just English text. And, be sure to build in a feedback loop to learn as you go.
Consistency is the key to successful branding. It is necessary for your brand to have everyone use it. Consistency must be uniform across all platforms.
Lastly, ask if your new brand is true. Is it you? Does it make sense? Or is it aspirational versus who you are? It is nice to want to be something, but if the brand is not true, the effort will fail.