Thursday, May 14, 2009

Seneca Pursues Branding Initiative

SENECA – The village is looking for its own special brand to establish a unique identity.

“A strategic marketing plan to help attract new industry, business, and tourism,” noted Mark Ellis, spokesman for the Seneca Development Organization, which is promoting adoption of a community brand to help boost the village’s sales tax revenue.

“Branding our community and successfully marketing ourselves toward business and industrial development and tourism, will show our strengths, such as Woodsmoke Ranch, the Illinois River, our great schools, marinas, and the many industrial opportunities we have available.”

Ellis presented the SDO’s idea Tuesday evening to the Seneca Village Council, saying the logo and tagline would be used by the municipality and organizations, and incorporated in letterheads, business cards, Web sites, brochures, and signs.

“A fully developed logo and tagline will help encourage economic development, new residents, new businesses, tourism, and help unify our purpose,” he said.

Ellis said the SDO would serve as the brand committee, then present the developed logo and tagline to the village council for acceptance.

Mayor David Spicer said he found the village had a logo more than 30 years ago. He also told Ellis he did not want to decide whether the SDO should research the change. Instead, he said, the whole council should take part in the decision.

“I don’t have a problem with making the change if the council agrees,” he said. “I do not want to make that decision on my own.”

Ellis said the logo and tagline would also be used on promotional items, merchandise, and giftware. The SDO will sell these items to raise funds for community projects.

“A community brand is what people say about you when you’re not around,” he told the council. “This is true, whether you’re talking about the brand of a city, region, community, or municipality. Branding is the process a city, region, community, or municipality embarks upon to change, refine, or improve what people are saying about them.”

A community brand technically is a mixture of attributes that create value and influence. Community brands help consumers, residents, businesses and tourists distinguish individual communities.Some brands focus strictly on economic development – a primary industry, for example, while others feature and identify that which appeals to businesses and site selectors.

“Branding is a highly effective form of economic development marketing because the entire community becomes a medium for showcasing its business benefits,” Ellis noted.

He presented the council with 24 examples of logos and taglines representing cities across the United States. Included was the tagline “We’re More Than Ore” used by Hibbing, Minn., and the circle brand by the cities of Shreveport and Bossier with the tagline, “Louisiana’s Other Side.”

Also, that of Grand Rapids, which reads “It’s in Minnesota’s Nature,” and by which reads, “Alaska Starts Here.” “Local Flavor, Global Vision,” is the tagline for Sebastopol, Calif. Beaumont, Texas, adopted the tagline, “Rich With Opportunity.”Commissioner Randy Timmons said he believed the SDO should be given opportunity to devise a logo and tagline unique to Seneca.

“It’s a learning experience to me,” Commissioner Mark Victor said. “Give them a chance to see what they come up with.”

Ellis said the SDO may present more than one logo and tagline from which the council could choose.

“You have our permission to proceed,” Spicer said. “And hopefully, come up with something that will smack us off our feet.”

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