UNCOVERING & TELLING OUR UNIQUE STORY
Photo courtesy of Shane Wynn
Photo courtesy of Shane Wynn
The Greater Akron Chamber has begun an area-wide research initiative. This effort will help Greater Akron stand out in the marketplace as we grow toward our preferred future. Currently, we are conducting research inside and outside the area to uncover perceptions, attitudes and what's unique about the Greater Akron region.
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 initiative is conducting research to pinpoint Greater Akron's existing reputation. At the same time, we will conduct research to determine Greater Akron's greatest strengths and opportunities. What makes our area 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 Greater Akron, 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 Greater Akron need a brand?
Every person, product, and place has a reputation. Is Greater Akron's reputation accurate or as far reaching as we want? We have many ambassadors here, but are we maximizing those resources for advocacy? A strong brand, that is universally accepted and used by all the stakeholders who market and promote the Greater Akron region, will help to set our region 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 this 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
Are a brand and a logo different?
Greater Akron's brand is not just a logo or a tagline. Our brand is our reputation . . . our bragging rights . . . what makes Greater Akron different and special. Logos and taglines are important tools for representing our community brand in marketing and communications. But they are only tools.
Why do we do research?
People have lots of opinions about the Greater Akron region. We want to hear them all. And the only way to do that is to gather lots of data from inside and outside the area. That data then becomes the primary driver for uncovering Greater Akron's brand. A significant body of quantitative and qualitative research ensures the brand represents the perceptions of all audiences inside and outside the community.
Are brands just for tourism?
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 the Greater Akron region as a potential market for their business, they’ll first come here as visitors. An authentic brand that resonates throughout the area 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 Greater Akron has to offer.
How can I be a part of this?
There are lots of ways for interested citizens and businesses to get involve. One of the most important is to take our community survey, which will be available online in the weeks ahead. You can also sign up to be a brand ambassador or to receive regular updates.
At the heart of the Greater Akron brand are the stories of the people who call this area home. And we want to hear them all. Did you start a business or a family here? Buy your first house or car? Please share the details. What does your church mean to you? Did your kids learn to swim in a local pool? Where do you go to have fun with your friends? What is your favorite memory?
If pictures are your preferred way to tell your story, post a picture of you, your family and friends at a favorite area hangout. Post both stories and pictures on Instagram at #SharingGreaterAkron. The best pictures might even be used in a social media campaign associated with the roll-out of the new brand!
If you really have a passion to help with this process sign up to become a Greater Akron Ambassador below. Ambassadors are kept updated on the project and given the tools to spread the good word about Greater Akron within their own personal spheres of influence.
Photo Courtesy The University of Akron