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HometownSource.com: Branding helps suburban, outstate communities promote their best assets

HOMETOWN SOURCE

Suburban and outstate communities want their assets to become better known to residents and businesses looking to relocate.
 
They call this effort branding, a process that looks at the community’s assets, traditions and history and develops slogans, and in some cases, new logos.
 
Many suburbs grew from farm fields and potato fields, while some grew from true historic downtowns.
 
Some are fortunate to be on a lake like Forest Lake, along Lake Minnetonka like Excelsior and Wayzata, along the Mississippi River like Anoka, Coon Rapids and Elk River and along the Minnesota River like Shakopee.

Communities also have distinguishing institutions: Mall of America in Bloomington, Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, the National Sports Center in Blaine and soon Columbus will be known for its Harness Racing Track.
 
Now that communities have developed new school buildings, community centers and industrial parks, they want to attract more people and particularly more businesses.
 
Suburban communities have to fight for attention to compete with Minneapolis and St. Paul, who coincidentally also are trying to find their identities with a new slogan.
 
Branding consultants are charging communities to come into communities to interview residents and to come up with new slogans.
 
Anoka, which bills itself as the Halloween Capitol of the World, is looking for a new image. The Anoka City Council has hired a firm for $23,250, which is the going rate. The consultants want Anoka to use “Aspire” in their branding iron, which means other communities could aspire to be more like Anoka or Anoka aspires to move forward.
 
Coon Rapids has a similar study under way for $23,000 and has adopted the slogan: “Community Strength for Generations.”
 
All this effort forces communities to dwell on their assets in developing the brand they want to project. Some communities’ strengths don’t lend themselves to slogans: clean government, safe streets, hundreds of volunteers, modern schools, quickly plowed streets, lower taxes, effective police, quick-responding paramedics and volunteer firefighters,
 
Becker once had a slogan: “Minnesota’s Best Kept Secret.” Elk River once had a welcome sign that said “Where City and the Country Flow Together.”
 
Monticello paid a consultant to come up with Monticello “Your Kind of Place.” It was discontinued probably because the appeal was to citizens already living there.
 
Princeton’s Web site brags about its “Community on the Rum.” Cambridge contends its “An Opportunity Community.” Lakeville bills itself as the “Southern Gateway to the Twin Cities.”
 
Hopkins, with the help of a consultant may have come up with a slogan every city could use: Think Hopkins, Think Princeton, Think Elk River, Think Anoka.
 
Branding may be worth the money if it results in getting one new tax-paying business. At least the community won’t be “Minnesota’s Best Kept Secret.” 

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