In 2017, five member municipalities of the Brooks Region commissioned a Branding & Communications Strategy to present their promise to the world. This effort was spearheaded by a leadership group of economic development specialists and political representatives from each municipality (City of Brooks, County of Newell, Town of Bassano, Villages of Duchess and Rosemary). The brief was ambitious: build a distinct brand for a young, diverse, and vibrant region in southeast Alberta to promote economic development, improve recognition and awareness among target audiences, and attract new investors and visitors to the area.
The leadership group engaged Calgary-based firm Intelligent Futures (“the team”) to lead strategy development. The team worked closely with the leadership group to build a brand platform, create design concepts and templates, and consolidate outcomes into a consistent, comprehensive and user-friendly strategy.
At the heart of this work was the brand platform – the project’s north star that captured its character and potential. The team researched regional impressions, competitive environment, and consulted stakeholders to understand political and economic considerations influencing the branding process. To ensure the brand resonated with target audiences, the team developed audience personas comprising site selection professionals, corporate executives, representatives of economic development agencies and target industries, and residents.
Key challenges and responses throughout the process were:
|Branding must appeal to diverse audience||Personas created to accommodate key audiences|
|Branding must reflect “small-town feel” but position the region as progressive and innovative||Elements of existing community brands incorporated to ensure traditional values are captured within more contemporary and creative approaches|
|Branding materials will be deployed in a competitive and crowded market place||Review of competitive initiatives ensured new branding materials stand out but are appropriate for target audiences|
|Branding materials must be employed consistently, across community groups, initiatives and levels of government||Brand implementation guidelines and key messaging to govern usage|
|Branding materials will ultimately be delivered by community-based staff who do not have extensive experience in design and marketing||Library of example materials provided for users to customize, adapt and adopt.|
The team drew on their design acumen to build a visual identity reflective of the Brooks Region’s resilient, and industrious attitude and the small-but-mighty character of the leadership group. Communication messaging and tactics were developed with an emphasis on a pragmatic approach to achieve maximum impact. These elements were consolidated into a detailed brand identity that highlighted the Region’s promise, market position, value proposition, vision, values, and personality.
The brand has been incorporated across marketing and communications initiatives locally, provincially and nationally. Response has been positive, and promotions have helped raise interest in economic opportunities in the region. The launch included four new social media accounts, website, e-newsletter, direct mail campaigns, an explainer video (https://vimeo.com/331800594), digital marketing campaign, five contests, branded items for giveaways, plus integration of the brand into existing publications and marketing tools. The social media audience of the Brooks Region has increased over 78% since launch and has reached over 210,000 unique users in four months.