10/23/2019- “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around.” That was the message delivered by representatives of North Star, a community branding agency who spoke to residents of Marinette and Menominee Counties last night about cultivating and promoting a unique community image. But, more than defining who and what Marinette and Menominee Counties are, says Will Ketchum, North Star’s President and CEO, is how we use that identity to influence behavior and promote economic and community development.
“It’s how you tell your story and that is very important. And that is where most people stop with the idea of branding. What you do with your brand has to be more than a story, it has to be more than a logo, it has to be more than a slogan. It has to have bearing on how choose to behave as a community.”
When asked about how to address resistance within the community in regard to change, Ketchum explains the first people you have to sell on a local image is the residents who are already there. That, he says, is the key to authenticity.
“We’re not asking them to change anything. It’s the way they already area- that’s the true character of the community. The first audience has to be the people who are already here and then one of the nice by-products is that it also invites others to come.”
Before delivering their presentation, the North Star team spent the day touring the region and meeting with local government and business officials and noted the unique assets including access to waterfront and nature, character of the residents, and a world-class manufacturing environment. North Star has worked with more than 200 communities across the United States on place branding projects.