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Make it great, make it grow

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Jun 7th, 2013
Posted in Peterson Government

By Kirsten Zoellner

So what’s in a name, or in a brand for that matter? One can hardly think of a city other than New York when you see a big red heart preceded by the letter “I.” What about our small towns? Can they build a lasting public image? Can they build a strong identity that instantly captures who they are to the rest of the world?

The Rushford-Peterson Area Branding Council thinks so. They’ve been diligently working for over two years to find what it is that makes the tri-city area a place to live, work, and play. Pouring over years of previous surveys, studies, and presentations, including that of branding expert Roger Brooks, the council is now on the verge of revealing the Rushford-Peterson area brand.

“This is people equity. We need to inspire our communities to take the opportunity to take something and make it great, make it grow,” says council member Terri Benson. “We need to plant the seed.”

Much thought and foresight has been put into the creation of the brand. The optimistic group has refined the past two years worth of study into a condensed summary, which at the end will deliver what everyone has been waiting for; the brand itself.

The council is keen to share its vision with the area, but they’re equally keen to see the communities take ownership of the brand and make it grow into an economic and social result. “We need to get them thinking, ‘How, when, and where can I use this?’” added Benson.

One thing is certain; the promotion of the brand needs to be consistent and incorporated into more than just a slogan or logo for tourists. “This will provide vitality to our community, along with economic growth and development,” notes council member Gail Boyum. “We need to bring the brand to life.”

The brand will serve as a sort of umbrella covering the area in which it serves. The process of brand-building can take years, but it has to start somewhere. “It needs to benefit the entire community and future generations and have a unified message that pulls us together,” adds council member Peggi Redalen.

One challenge the council faced was branding an area of this size. The council discovered that no commercial branding expert has ever created an established brand with a community population smaller than 3,500 people. Essentially, the council was breaking new ground in brand-building.

A goal of the group has been to find an individual brand that will integrate well within the communities, both in personal and economic growth, for residents, potential residents, as well as tourists. In doing this, however, it’s key to them to maintain the individual character of each of the communities involved. “We need to find a balance. To not singly drive towards the tourism industry, but long term to develop our communities,” stressed Benson. “The challenge isn’t that there’s not enough money or ideas. We need an energy to drive it, to say, ‘Here’s your inspiration. Run with it!”

Monday, June 17, at 6:30pm, the council intends to present its findings and officially announce the brand. A PowerPoint presentation will cover their summary of the in-depth study before launching into the brand, brand strategy, the tagline, and logo. A question and answer session will follow. The location of the presentation will be announced in next week’s paper.

“We have a rich area, a culture,” added Benson. “We need to celebrate it.”

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