“Jettison the generic” is really what the word “branding” is all about. Branding involves finding that one thing that differentiates you from everyone else in your marketplace. And this is true for businesses as well. We are in the age of specialization. Attorneys, medical practitioners, real estate agents, architects, consultants now specialize and communities need to do so as well.
For years Arizona has promoted itself as “The Grand Canyon State.” Of course Arizona has a lot more to offer, but the foundation of its brand is the one thing no one can get anywhere else on earth. Smart. Very smart.
WHAT TO DO
1. Think about some of the best-branded communities. I’ll mention the name and you fill in the their brand:
- Napa Valley: __________________________________
- Nashville: ____________________________________
- Hollywood: ___________________________________
- Silicon Valley: _________________________________
- Green Bay: ___________________________________
- Calgary: _____________________________________
- Colorado Rockies: ______________________________
- Memphis: ___________________________________
- Hershey, Pennsylvania: __________________________
- Branson, Missouri: _____________________________
- Lancaster, Pennsylvania: _________________________
- Your town: __________________________________
Other than the last three, I didn’t even need to note their state or province. Their name has become synonymous with their brand. That’s your goal.
By the way, if you’re not familiar with Branson, Missouri, it’s a town of 6,500 residents that hosts nearly 7.5 million visitors a year and is known for its 50 music theaters. Is there more to do there? Lots more, but music theater is what puts them on the map.
2. Take the test. I’ve posted a list of all 50 U.S. states (click here for the download) in the left column and in the right column listed their marketing slogan in a random order. Your job is to match the state to the right slogan. Few people can make it past 11. It’s easy to guess which state goes with the Grand Canyon or The Aloha State.
In defense of the states, they are in a tough position. They really are trying to promote everything the state has to offer, and in that context just about every state DOES have “something for everyone.” But at a local level you MUST find your niche and promote it like crazy.
3. Start thinking of what it is that really puts you on the map and differentiates you from everyone else in your market. Make sure it’s an activity, not just something to look at. A statue of Paul Bunyan will quickly become a “been there, done that” attraction. Once everyone in the market has seen it, you’ll be out of customers. Activities attract customers, plus they bring them back and keep them in town longer.