What comes to mind when you think of Sin City? If you said: “Vegas, baby!” then you can already sense the power of city branding at work.
City branding is a form of place branding, which can be applied to geographical areas or designations of varying sizes. At its core, city branding refers to a communications strategy where marketing techniques are applied to a city the way they’re used to market a product or business.
Every place has a story. City branding is a powerful way to craft, define, tell — and ultimately sell — that story. Keep reading to learn all about city branding and how it can get you on the map.
Looking for a marketing partner with all the right chops? Your Business Marketer has helped countless businesses and municipalities get their branding on point. Learn more about our services or contact us today to get started.
How to Improve City Branding
A collaborative, engaging approach to city branding allows all stakeholders to get involved in creating the story of their city. Of course, this process really interweaves multiple stories concerning local economics, politics, social values, environmental characteristics and the core cultural attributes that set a city apart.
City branding is multi-faceted. Here are just a few of the must-haves to help you get started.
City Branding: Establish an Online Presence
A clean, modern website that’s easy to navigate is essential for great city branding. Your city’s online presence is the first thing potential future residents and investors will judge it by. If you haven’t updated your site since the Bush administration, it’s time to give it a facelift.
Aside from attracting new visitors, residents and investors, a municipal website serves as a hub for your existing community. This where residents should be able to find local resources and information, pay utility bills and discover local events. If all they find is crickets and the occasional tumbleweed while they wait for an outdated page to load, it doesn’t bode well for team spirit.
A robust, current website offers an excellent opportunity to craft a city’s image. Municipalities looking to grow can work with a professional digital marketing agency to create an online marketing strategy. By applying marketing tools like SEO and paid search ad campaigns to your city, you can boost tourism, attract new residents or outside investments and foster a sense of community from within.
Social Media for Cities
Successful businesses from just about every industry humans operate in understand the power of a strong social media presence. If your city doesn’t have one or more social media accounts, the time to start is yesterday.
Social media creates countless opportunities for real-time engagement with constituents. Update residents with local news, promote local businesses and provide a platform for leaders to reach residents where they’re at — online.
Create a Sense of Community
A city with a strong sense of community is already ten steps ahead when it comes to city branding. Shared values, local pride and partnerships between businesses, municipal branches and constituents can all help create a sense of collective identity.
Ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for civil engagement and events to bring your community members together. This includes initiatives like a restaurant week that promotes local eateries, art and music festivals and unique calendar celebrations, like a city’s Founders’ Day.
Find Your City Brand
If your city is growing and doesn’t have a strong sense of identity yet, don’t sweat it. City branding is an ongoing process that evolves with your community. Invite local residents and business owners to share their vision for the city’s future.
A shared community vision can act as a roadmap for future initiatives, and it can highlight the unique strengths of your city, like shared values and desires.
To help identify what makes your city unique, consider aspects like these:
Strengths and Trends
Be sure to highlight the best of what your city has to offer. Authenticity is key. If you’re a rural, small town community, capitalize on the peace and serenity of country life, and consider how national trends might guide which aspects you highlight.
Rural towns can capitalize on the exodus from urban life. With remote work booming and workers enjoying location independence, prior drawbacks may now be considered unique strengths.
That’s exactly why city branding should always be a living process.
Understanding your city’s demographics is essential for all aspects of city branding. Metrics like average age, income level, ethnicity and education levels can help identify which city attributes to highlight, as well as pinpointing potential weaknesses to work on.
Local demographics will also influence decisions like which social media platforms will be most effective for community outreach.
Consider the kinds of educational opportunities that prospective residents might find in your city. This includes students of all ages — even adults. If your city is host to a highly specialized trade school or industry, this is a great aspect to highlight.
Local businesses like restaurants, antique shops or event spaces can give a city its flavor. Does your Main street have the best ice cream in the midwest? Is there a karaoke bar on every corner? These are the hidden gems that instill local pride and send weekenders on day trips to come boost your local economy.
Let’s be real. The whole world needs a break. If your city offers relaxing recreational activities like hiking, swimming or a twinkling theme park, let the people know about it.
Whether your town plays host to the world’s most lopsided tree or a famous film was shot in that pink house on the corner, local lore and landmarks can turn a simple visit into an unforgettable — and Instagrammable — experience.
If your city is sorely lacking in this department, we spy an excellent opportunity for a community art project.
Professional City Branding Services
Whether your municipality is looking to attract new residents, businesses, investors, tourists or weekenders, city branding is the way to do it. Not a marketing guru? You’re in the right place.
Your Business Marketer has been helping cities across the midwest stand out from the rest since our founding. Throw your chips in with an experienced marketing team and get your local digital marketing strategy off the ground and shooting for the stars.
Reach out to the YBM team today to learn more.