For 76 per cent of investment opportunities, Hope is either completely ignored, or information about Hope is gathered without making a single inquiry to people who actually live here. This is a claim by Ed Burghard, a leading economic development blogger and place brand advocate.
To help our community compete in light of these facts, a resurgent effort to establish a community brand is now underway in Hope. This collaboration between the District of Hope, the Chamber of Commerce, and AdvantageHOPE will see a public information session on Jan. 30, workshops and follow up sessions in February. A comprehensive “Brand Book” by the end of June will immediately be used by the three partners to influence marketing decisions, policy decisions, and budget allocations.
Often branding is associated simply with a logo, or a tagline. While these tools are part of a brand, they are only one aspect of it. A brand is often articulated as a community’s reputation, the visualization of what other people hold about a place. This reputation is critical to economic development, attraction of new residents, business, and investment. The Chamber website, where you can go to keep up-to-date on this initiative, defines a place brand as “the totality of thoughts, feelings, and expectations that people hold about a location. It’s the reputation and the enduring essence of the place and represents its distinctive promise of value, providing it with a competitive edge.” It is, therefore, the only thing that is likely to reach out to 76 per cent of potential investments for our community.
I am encouraged by the collaboration between our organizations, and am confident that this process will produce much more than a logo. Hope has had many logos and taglines, focusing on the various strengths of our community. “Experience Hope,” “Chainsaw Carving Capital,” and “Gateway to Holidayland” have all been seen on letterhead, signage, websites, and banners over the last few years.
What makes this endeavour stand out from these past initiatives is its comprehensiveness, and commitment to implementation. With three entities committed to propelling a community brand, and eager to allow our own individual agencies’ brands and logo’s to take a back seat to a community brand, we will be able to amplify each of our individual efforts to promote our community and attract new visitors, business, and residents. When a new business begins to think about relocating, our reputation is much more likely to come to mind if the CEO knows a Hope resident who told him how great the community was, he remembers an experience in Hope that backs up that claim, and when he makes inquires to the local government, Chamber, or economic development agency, he receives the information and assistance required to come to the same conclusion.
I also look forward to seeing existing Hope businesses utilize a Hope brand. A brand can be used to lure new employees and promote a business’s products; by using a common voice our efforts can serve to benefit each other, rather than echo in our individual spheres of influence.
Our community is our best sales team - that is why every effort is being made to ensure citizens, service clubs, businesses, and entities are aware of this initiative, and everyone is encouraged to make their opinions known.
Come out on Jan. 30 to the Blue Moose Café for an open house, check http://hopechamber.net/about/hope-branding-initiative/ for more information, or drop into the Chamber or AdvantageHOPE to learn more.
Tyler Mattheis is executive director of AdvantageHOPE. He can be reached at 604-860-0930 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.