What is Community Branding?
Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. In other words, your reputation! Just like people or products, communities have reputations based on all the different experiences people have had with that community over time. Branding is the process of changing, clarifying, refining or improving that reputation.
The first step in our community branding initiative is conducting research to pinpoint Elk Grove's existing reputation. At the same time, we will conduct research to determine Elk Grove's greatest strengths and opportunities. What makes our city special and unique? This allows us to look at where we are in regard to reputation, where we want to be based on our greatest strengths and our aspirations, and which creative tools and strategies can help close the gap between the two.
A new brand won't solve all our problems. What branding can do is focus people on the positive differentiator in Elk Grove, which can help us stand out relative to the competition. The stronger and more defined our reputation, the more people will want to visit, live, work and play here.
Why Does Elk Grove need a Community Brand?
Because Elk Grove is a young city, in terms of being a municipality, and because it has grown and changed so dramatically in such a short time, it is important that we establish our brand identity – who we are and where we want to be in the future as our community continues to develop. A strong brand, that is universally accepted and used by all the stakeholders who market and promote Elk Grove, will help to set out City apart from all the rest.
Can you share some examples of community branding?
We are working with North Star Destination Strategies, a national place branding leader, to assist in our branding process. North Star has over 16 years of experience in community branding and has worked with over 200 communities around the country. You can see numerous examples of community branding on the website of North Star Destination Strategies
Why do we do research?
People have lots of opinions about Elk Grove. We want to hear them all. And the only way to do that is to gather lots of data from inside and outside the community. That data then becomes the primary driver for uncovering Elk Grove's brand. A significant body of quantitative and qualitative research ensures the brand represents the perceptions of all audiences inside and outside the community.
What is Visit Elk Grove and what is its role in our community?
Formed in 2015 by the City of Elk Grove and the six hotels within a newly created visitation district, Visit Elk Grove’s mission is to increase visitation to Elk Grove through destination development and brand management. In August 2016, the Visit Elk Grove Board of Directors, which includes the general managers of the City’s six hotels and a representative from the City of Elk Grove, hired its first Executive Director, David Brooks, a 13-year tourism veteran who relocated from Pennsylvania.
The organization is funded through a self-assessment charged to guests who stay overnight in the hotels, but its efforts aim to benefit not just hotels, but all of Elk Grove’s visitation related businesses – from restaurants to stores to attractions. The logic is simple - the longer people stay in our City, the more they spend in our community on dining, shopping, and entertainment. The influx of visitor spending helps our local economy, benefitting not only our businesses, but our residents as well.
What are the roles of the City’s Economic Development Department and Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce in this process?
Developing a strong community brand is key not only to attracting visitors to our community, but also in attracting new businesses and strengthening the businesses that are already here. When business representatives look at Elk Grove as a potential market for their business, they’ll first come here as visitors. An authentic brand that resonates throughout the City can also help our current businesses enhance the experience they provide their customers and facilitate a more coordinated and collaborative business community. By conveying a consistent message, we’ll ensure that we’re showing visitors, as well as potential new residents and business owners, all that Elk Grove has to offer.