Why is community branding important?

Community: Lake Bluff has decided to begin a branding initiative. This $65,000 project has its roots in the Village's 2016 Strategic Plan, which calls out for the development of a Village marketing plan. The benefit of an integrated brand is far-reaching, affecting the economic stability of the residential and business communities. Proactive communities brand themselves to be distinctive and to be destinations of choice for businesses, industry, visitors, residents, families and others.

Economic Development: Communities are taking a page from the private sector in developing brands to stand out in the minds of employers, visitors and residents. Unfortunately, many who start with lofty branding goals end up settling for a slogan and visual identity that falls short of becoming a true brand.

When a brand message is backed by real life experience, it taps into the powerful force of economic development. This is integrated branding – the ability to communicate and keep a branding promise. An effective integrated brand contributes to a stronger economic base, higher property values, diverse and sustainable employers and citizen retention. Lake Bluff is setting out to create a brand strategy to cross-functionally market Lake Bluff to drive business, sales tax revenue, relocation (residential and commercial), consumers, and general perception across community organizations.

Tourism: Tourism is an economic engine. More long weekends and few extended vacations are the trend; and a "been there, done that" attitude is spurring the need for communities to differentiate – brand – themselves in the sea of pick-up brochures, ads, media stories, and internal portals. Budgets to accomplish this are even more critical. With little money available for marketing or communications, marketers must ensure that every dollar works twice as hard.

What is a community brand for Lake Bluff?

The brand and image for Lake Bluff must appeal to audiences of all types – everything that can help Lake Bluff and all of its organizations achieve their full potential. A brand for Lake Bluff is not a campaign theme, tagline, or slogan. It's an expression of a compelling, unique experience that Lake Bluff offers. It will exist as a message or promise that is seen and heard through multiple channels of communication. Our brand will reflect an experience throughout our community and our ability to deliver on the promise of that experience.

The Branding Lake Bluff project will result in:
  • A shared brand identity for the future of the Village among residents, businesses, governments and community groups,
  • A consistent and compelling theme and a focused message to create interest in Lake Bluff as a destination for businesses, visitors, families and events, and
  • Community brand tools for everyone to use with a consistent look, feel and message that preserves identities and missions that are unique.
Qualities of a successful community brand:
  1. Total buy in. Community leaders and stakeholders from throughout Lake Bluff must believe in the brand.
  2. It's not about advertising. A distinctive, one-of-a-kind brand wins the hearts and minds of people. Brands are more than names, symbols or slogans. Our brand will be about the Lake Bluff experience.
  3. A set of principles. We will establish a set of values and principles to guide use of the Lake Bluff brand.
  4. Stand out to stand apart. Lake Bluff's brand will be based on a set of attributes and factors that distinguish the community from its competitors.
  5. Brand ambassadors are critical. Everyone in Lake Bluff must be an ambassador for the brand. It will take a team to ensure that messages about Lake Bluff are aligned with the brand promise.
  6. Consistency. We must stay true to the course by policing the messages as each organization, business or person conveys the brand.
  7. Live the promise. A brand is a pact with residents, visitors and businesses. A successful brand keeps its commitment and delivers on the promise.
When will Lake Bluff's brand be developed?

Phase I (4Q 2012) - Research and Development

Phase II (1Q 2013) - Development of Creative Brand Concepts

Phase III (2Q 2013) - Brand implementation begins

Who will lead the brand strategy?

The Branding Lake Bluff team, comprised of the Village's Development and Downtown Committee and other stakeholders from the community (including Lake Bluff School District 65 and the Lake Bluff Park District), are working with North Star Destination Strategies, a community branding firm based in Nashville, TN.

Who will have input into the process?

Everyone! Residents and community leaders are welcome and encouraged to have input on this important project.

Opportunities for input include:
  • A series of one-on-one meetings and focus groups.
  • A Vision Survey that will be emailed to an array of community and business leaders.
  • A Community Survey that will be available to all community residents, businesses and organizations.
  • A Perception Study will be conducted to gain an in-depth understanding of the brand perceptions among important target audiences inside and outside of Lake Bluff.
For more information, contact:

Drew Irvin

Village of Lake Bluff
40 East Center Avenue, Lake Bluff, Illinois 60044

For more on community branding, visit www.northstarideas.com.