The “less-alternative” alternative to Portland or Seattle. A legacy of big innovation. Open space in our back-yard. An emerging contender in the wine industry. What makes the Boise Valley unique may differ based on who you ask, but many businesses, nonprofits and public agencies in our Valley (and around the world) are investing in place branding as a way to tell their story, increase revenue or bolster their local economy.
Place or community branding - a mechanism for communities to differentiate themselves from others - is not a new concept. Tourism marketers like Roger Brooks have been helping communities find that key differentiator and share it with their primary audience for decades. What is evolving, however, is the way these entities are telling their stories. Incorporating inter-activity, engagement and video to allow users to experience and engage, taking a more in-depth look at the uniqueness of a community.
You may have noticed some recently produced examples of this type of place branding for the Treasure Valley. Several of our clients are implementing this type of marketing to heighten awareness for their industry or as a tool for reaching major goals. Some great examples of place branding (produced by the creative wizards at Boise studio Rizen Creative) include the Boise Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Boise is Waiting Video:
And the Boise Valley Economic Partnership's newly launched tech talent attraction website - Grow Ideas Here - that features a day in the life of six individuals who represent the technology community in the Valley
Lastly, the Idaho Wine Commission’s “Idaho…More than Just Wine” satire video:
Place branding goes beyond purposeful production, however. It exists on channels not as easily controlled, like social media, where place branding is not always positive. Take the Olympics in Sochi, for example. You may have seen the trending hashtag #sochiproblems and journalists tweeting about their hotel rooms not having doors or the water being unsafe to even wash your face with. This is when place branding is not your friend.
But, when you have a kick-ass community like Boise, it’s not so hard. So, how can you use effective place branding to your advantage as a business, non-profit or public entity?
> Determine the key differentiators of your community (this includes the infrastructure, but more so, it is the feeling/ spirit of the community)
> Capitalize on the inherent strengths of the community
> Articulate those strengths well
> Find the common themes in your community with business, industry, tourism and government
> Finally, match the message to your audience
Part of the evolution of place branding includes being flexible to how your message is communicated and how your community engages. Leveraging your advocates and elevating their praise in a real way will go further than carrying that message solo. Incorporate that advocacy through imagery and storytelling and your message will have long-term resonance.