Rebranding a Town…Drogheda Local Heroes Style
A company’s brand is more than a logo. It’s a story; it’s a process that enables you to stand out from your competition and influence choice.
As a marketer, I firmly believe that branding is incredibly important. It is visualised as a logo but is more than that. It signifies what is unique about your business; it shows the ethos or vision of your company.
Often times a company needs to rebrand. Sometimes it’s to re-engage with the market; other times it’s to shed a negative image. But the goal of rebranding is to develop a new position in the mind of competitors, customers and it’s publics.
Rebranding involves changing the marketing strategy, the logo, the adverts, the branding strategy and maybe even the name.
It is all about communicating a new message for a company.
Rebranding a town
The same logic of branding and rebranding can apply to a town. Drogheda was selected by RTE as town in crisis. RTE created a new programme called ‘Local Heroes, A Town Fights Back’ and chose Drogheda as the town to help.
As part of the RTE public service remit, they asked a number of production companies to come with concepts that could help turn a community suffering the brunt of the recession. Animo productions won the tender and Local Heroes project was born.
One of the key projects to Drogheda’s rejuvenating project was the creation of a brand. Internationally renowned branding consultant Noel Toolan and a team of local designers and creative consultants developed a brand strategy, which is typified in a stunning new logo.
The rebranding is aimed at placing Drogheda back on the Irish tourism map. Quite rightly as Drogheda is rich in heritage, history and culture.
As I said earlier, branding is all about a story. It brings together the story of a town (in this case!). The symbol consists of elements suggesting the three pillars of Boyneside, Heritage and History and Live Culture.
Here is the logo:
A few things to note:
The overall shape of the symbol is a uppercase ‘D’. It also forms the shape of a boat showing the sail and mast.
The 8 pointed star is a link to Drogheda’s heritiage. The town’s oldest symbol is the Star & Cresent
The water splash represents our relationship with the river. It is also suggestive of the arts
The spiral represents our links to Newgrange and the Boyne Valley.
If your town needs rejuvenating or rebranding, here are a few steps to take:
1. Get outside help
While your locals and residents know about the beauty of your town, sometimes you need someone to come in and state it to you. The sense of pride that you have is doubled, trebled when an expert comes in and agrees with you – and suggests some improvements.
2. Get the townsfolk behind you
You need to get as many of the residents – families, business owners, school going children, community representatives, politicians – together and get them talking. I went to the ‘Ideas Summit’ that we had and I saw people turned away because the room was full to capacity. That’s a great sign (and yes, the people turned away were talked to and their contact details were captured).
3. Set up a central location
You need a physical (and virtual) place that people can visit – to pick up information, to contribute help to and talk to the organisers. A place in the centre of your town shows commitment to the general public but also acts as a hub of activity.
4. Create a brand
As mentioned above, branding is more than a logo. It’s a story – it sets you apart. Engage a branding team who will work with locals for research and designers to create the visuals. In Drogheda, we are very lucky to have fantastic designers and creatives – but so many other towns do too. Get them all together, get them to brainstorm ideas, colours, designs. It might be a busy time with so much creativity but you’re guaranteed to get the best brand created.
5. Create supporting documentation
As a marketer and copywriter, I firmly believe in creating engaging documentation. Create documentation – tourism brochures, posters, flyers, retail maps, local magazines – all with the new logo. Use positive words that engage and keep the buzz of the brand and town.
6. Organise events
In every town, there is a key group of people involved. Then there are people who are less involved but every bit as committed (just without the time element involved). Then there are people who are somewhat aware of the new initiative and then there are people who are completely unaware of what’s going on. By having different events around town as part of the rebranding, you make more people aware of what is going on. The more people who can get engaged, the better.
7. Build upon the successes
In Drogheda, there have been many activities – the Halloween festival, the re-emergence of the Bonanza festival, the new brand, the tourism documentation. It’s time to build on all that success and celebrate the success of getting so much done in such a short time. Likewise, with your town, embrace the successes and celebrate them. Sometimes things get done and it’s great but to truly celebrate them, you need to stand back and pat yourself on the back.
8. Acknowledge mistakes
In everything that everyone does, mistakes happen. So the same thing will happen with rejuvenating a town. With so many people involved, you don’t want to hold onto negativity. The blame game is never good. So acknowledge it, assign no blame, learn from it and move on.
9. Communicate, communicate, communicate
At the heart of every good relationship is communication. It is key that you communicate with everyone involved – use social media, use email, use the local media – but just keep communicating. Tell people what’s going on, inform them of what has happened and keep sharing the events or activities that is a direct result of the rejuvenation.
As I walked across West Street (the main thorough-fare in Drogheda) yesterday, a wave of pride swept over me. Many of the once vacant shops now have tenants. A new coffee shop, a new sweet shop, a newsagent, a flower shop, a facial skincare shop, a polish shop have all opened in the last few weeks and it’s a delight to see.
It’s Drogheda’s time to shine…and it’s sparkling beautifully.