Why is branding important? In the business world, examples abound. For Starbucks, a great brand means never having to justify prices. At Nike, global market dominance was built around three short words and a simple swoosh. In the computer industry, a microprocessing company became a household name by demonstrating the importance of having Intel Inside.
Branding is crucial in the business world. Great brands offer a competitive edge, showcase innovation and create legacies that endure. In business, the most creative branding campaigns emerge from industries with fierce product competition. A product with many comparable substitutes must be differentiated from its competitors. Again and again, firms use the power of brand identity to distinguish their product from the competition. But the importance of branding is not limited to the business community.
Competitive communities across America are aggressively seeking to attract new businesses and residents to their marketplace. Doing so requires a strategy to differentiate their community from all others. More and more frequently, progressive regions are marketing themselves through branding campaigns that appeal to a national audience. These coordinated branding efforts are just as important for places as they are for products.
Regional branding offers four important benefits:
- Attracting and retaining businesses
- Attracting and retaining a talented workforce
- Increasing tourism
- Fostering a sense of pride and satisfaction with current residents.
Throughout the Midwest, progressive communities are working with public and private leaders to develop and implement regional branding. Last year, Louisville, Kentucky branded itself Possibility City—a place without limits, where anything can be accomplished. Governmental organizations and community development agencies have agreed to support the brand and incorporate it in all outbound communication materials.
In Kansas City, Missouri, regional leaders have developed two brands: KC ONE and THINK KC. The former is targeted internally to encourage communities within the Kansas City region to work together; the latter is designed to attract major businesses to consider Kansas City as a destination for expansion or relocation.
In 2007, the Des Moines: Do More campaign was launched in Iowa. This campaign is actually the second branding activity developed for the state’s capital city. The first effort took place nearly six years ago and was designed to promote a sense of community optimism and local patriotism among Des Moines residents.
Here in Peoria, the time is right to do the same. The Peoria region has changed dramatically over the last few years—and we are poised for additional transformative change in the near future. The time is now to come together and develop a coordinated branding campaign for the entire region. We need to reveal what it is that makes our region so attractive, and then communicate it to the rest of the world. The creation of a coordinated brand will benefit all communities in our region, not just Peoria and East Peoria.
The Peoria region does not operate in a vacuum. We are in direct competition with metropolitan areas across the country. As a result, we must differentiate our community in order to succeed competitively. Civic leaders should be responsive to the actions of other communities and work together to attract innovative businesses and talented individuals to our marketplace. If not, we risk losing out to the competition for years to come. iBi