The beta version of assets for the Toledo Region Brand Platform were distributed back in June. I took a peek back then, have re-read them a few times since, but thought I had better try to write up something to help me make sense of it. This blog posting is just "what it is" - without any commentary on what I think about it (which will come later).
But wait: what the heck is this initiative and why do I care about it? It is part of a long-term effort to take the best of corporate branding techniques and apply it to where I live, with a focus on improving economic develop efforts. Place branding is one term for it. So far, I have gone to several of the community forums & one of the working sessions, and pestered the guys at Applied Storytelling (who are helping lead this) with my feedback and user experience point of view. I probably only know enough to be dangerous.
I am interested for several reasons. I see some similarities to what I do for IBM (help translate corporate branding goals into digital experiences) and taking this "public sector" view might give me insights to help me do my IBM job better. I think I can contribute to these regional efforts: designing digital experiences will be an important part of the Toledo branding efforts. And anything I can do to help the Toledo-area economy grow might help my kids later.
(If you want to learn more about these effort, start at toledoregionstory.com. You can also do some searches for "toledo region brand" to find some local media coverage.)
On with my recap of the 3 documents from June 16th, the beta version of the Toledo Region Brand Platform:
About the initiative, so far (pages 3-22)
- Why? Competing for jobs, talent, investment money. Milwaukee, Pittsburgh examples.
- Bring together messages for key audiences. Tell a good story of what makes us unique, clear promises.
- Lots of existing background research (including IBM study). Community work sessions, interviews with business leaders.
- Brand: unique & valuable, what NOT to be, fit with reality, some industries lead, others follow.
- Jobs, jobs, jobs. Universities. Smart manufacturing. "Toledo" in the name. Downtown. Water. Infrastructure. "World-class assets in a mid-sized package".
The brand platform (pages 23-74)
- Essence --> (Promise | Positioning | Personality) --> (Logo | Visual system | Messaging/Backstory | Tagline | Name | Descriptor) --> (Brand Visual Guidelines | Brand Voice Guidelines) --> (Digital Media | Event Environments | Packaging | Print Communications | Advertising).
- Essence: Toledo Region, appealing region in the State of Ohio.
- Brand drivers: Access, Affordability.
- Positioning: Economic Development. Secondary: Learn, Quality of Life, Play.
- New manufacturing. Computing. Deploy technology. Sustainability. Product customization. Across industries.
- Position #1: "The Toledo Region is the destination of choice for
tomorrow's entrepreneurs and leaders in the New Manufacturing Economy." Yes, it is Credible, Ownable, Defensible, Relevant.
- Position #2: "The Toledo Region offers the highest quality of life at the most reasonable cost of virtually any other place in the nation." C-O-D-R.
- Position #3: "The Toledo Region is the water recreation capital of the Midwest." C-O-D-R.
- Promise: Find everything you need to accelerate your opportunity -- in the heart of the New Manufacturing Economy.
- Descriptors: Plug and play. (Plug in and learn.) (Live the best for the least.) (More scenic. More shoreline. More fun.)
- Personality: warm (interested in people), worldly (well-informed), enterprising (decisions, motion). (Often under-utilized. Emotional aspect of the brand.)
Messaging (pages 75-95)
- Relevant/resonate, Clear/organized, Well-integrated, Different ways to communicate with audiences. Based on the brand promise.
- Audience #1 (Economic development): Toledo Region-Based Entrepreneur. Wants: infrastructure, talent, peer support, low COB, business success. Promise: Existing activity, efficient business operations, academic & peer support.
- Audience #2 (Quality of life): Talent. Wants: quality/affordable housing, cultural activities, schools, medical; professional and personal fulfillment. Promise: Low cost-of-living, world-class but more intimate amenities, "big small town".
- Audience #3 (Education): Prospective College Student. Wants: Options, top programs, career, affordable. Promise: academic options, business connections, job in the new manufacturing economy.
- Audience #4 (Tourism): Leisure Tourist. Wants: character, experiences, nice people, easy to get to. Promise: water, recreation, sports.
The story for ED (pages 96-109)
- New Manufacturing Economy. Manufacturing mindset. No more centralized command and control.
- Research, design, manufacturing, logistics. Talent, capital, networks.
- Shorelines, islands, riverbanks (not concrete). Deep, lasting roots.
Channels, touch points and integration (pages 110-131)
- All channels, every channel.
- You have no choice but to build a brand online. Web site as hub, fed by social media. Web experiences.
- Web site mock-ups. Living-Working-Visiting-Learning. Banner ad, mall sign, mobile.
- Integration into local company marketing efforts: Mud Hens example.
- Transparent participation in social media. YouTube instead of TV.
Implementation (pages 132-133)
- Obviously, there is a lot more detail to the plan than is shown here. Is looks like a local agency (or several of them) is set to be hired soon. Then developing something by the end of the year and launching it in January.
Again, this posting is really just a way to force me to comb through the material to help me understand it better. If you found it useful or interesting, great! Now to find some time to figure out what it all means.