Write Roger – Community Branding Consultants
Can you tell me if there is a community branding association that firms such as yours belong to? If so, would that be a good way to go about soliciting responses to an RFP? Is there another method that we would utilize to find firms with similar qualifications to respond? – Renee, Casper Wyoming
Thanks for reaching out to us. Here are a few answers and suggestions to help you move forward with your branding efforts:
Don’t hire an ad agency or graphic design firm. As you know, logos and slogans aren’t brands.
Don’t hire anyone who does not include product development as part of a community branding effort. All great brands are built on product: Nashville and country music, Napa Valley and wine, Branson, MO and their 49 music theaters, Jackson and western art, Orlando and Disney World.
There are no branding associations because there are very few companies that concentrate on community branding.
There is Bill Baker, based out of Portland, Oregon, and he’s a small shop but gets what branding is. His company is Total Destination Marketing and you can check him out at destinationbranding.com.
There are a few others, but most are home-based.
We’re the only one, that we know of or have ever seen, that has creative services as part of our in-house staff. While brands are built on product, the look and feel of your brand is how its showcased to the world, so we believe they have to integrate seamlessly.
We recommend issuing a Request for Qualifications. Every company has their own methodology – and ours was 30 years in the making. You can issue and RFQ in a page, and then let companies tell you what methodology they use along with samples of the work they’ve done. Find the top two or three (or one if it’s obvious) where you like the methodology (or that makes the most sense), interview them, and then ask them for a price. If you can’t live with the cost, or their is a personality conflict, or any other problems, simply go to number two on the list. We, for one, rarely respond to RFPs. We’ve spent years researching communities where branding didn’t work as planned, and we came up with a 13-step process that, to date, has seen a 100% success rate. (Knock on wood!)
What you are looking for is an Action Plan, not a Strategic Plan. It takes a village to create a winning brand, with everyone on the same page pulling in the same direction. What you need is a Branding (what it is you want to be known for), Development (the product that backs it up) & Marketing (how to tell the world) Action Plan. So, you want to make sure it incorporates all three of those functions.
Most of the communities that hire us don’t even go out to RFP or issue an RFQ since there are so few choices out there. Perhaps this is why we’ve worked in 45 states, across Canada and in Western Europe!
You should plan on a total budget (including the complete brand graphics) of between $80,000 and $120,000. Our program is on the high end for the complete community branding “system” including brand graphics, key marketing messages, product development plan, local outreach, assessment, research, etc.
One thing we found: Always get a team that will build the brand “with you,” not “for you.” When there’s local buy-in (it comes from within, not plopped on the community by consultants) the chance of success is greatly improved. We “facilitate” the process with the community. In fact, we do much of it in your community, with you, bringing our Creative Director and team with us, which is quite fun and really brings it home.
I hope this is helpful!