Six Key Challenges to Successful Community Rebranding

February 27, 2024
Businessmen and businesswomen meeting brainstorming ideas about new new community rebranding project in a bright modern office.

You’re thinking about a new website, logo and marketing campaign — all signs are pointing to some serious community rebranding on the horizon! For destinations looking to evolve their image, there are many truths and challenges facing us all when it comes to branding. 

There are other broader factors, both externally and internally, to think about when rebranding your community. Reflect on them before committing too quickly to any one strategy to make sure you are setting up your community for success.  

1. Perception – Out with the Old Already!

“People think there’s nothing to do here, but we’ve changed.”  

“We’re seen as a great place to visit, but not a place with jobs.”  

“Companies don’t think they can find the talent they need here.” 

These are just some of the common perceptions we hear from communities across the country wanting to change their image. You likely have a gut sense of the perceptions and misperceptions of your community, but research to back it up is critical and should be the first step in your rebrand. This research could take the form of focus groups and perception surveys to understand what your target audience thinks and what’s important to them. Use these results to inform your brand. We recommend promoting your strengths and opportunities while also addressing your weaknesses and misperceptions. 

2. Standing Out from the Competition

“A business-friendly environment” 

“Great quality of life” 

“Family friendly and safe”  

Sound familiar? So many communities are saying the same thing! How can you add color to make your city, region or state stand out? Use data and specific examples from your community to tell a story. Tout the names of companies located in your community and the cool things they are doing, talk about what you can do on the weekends, and share details on your workforce training programs, colleges and universities. For creative inspiration on how to stand out, check out some of the brands we’ve worked on, ranging from business attraction brands like Mighty Mississippi and British Columbia, Naturally, to talent brands like Move Upstate SC and WonderFL.    

3. Stakeholder Support

You’ll need support from community stakeholders and leaders if you want your new brand to live and thrive. Will the brand die if (insert key leader’s name here) doesn’t like it? That person should be at the  table from the onset, along with other influential stakeholders who can weigh in during the branding process at key milestones. Getting these stakeholders involved will ensure they are heard and give them some skin in the game. For more tips, see our blog, “Five Stakeholder Considerations for Building New Community Brands.”

4. The Rollout

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to rolling out your brand, but a rollout plan and strategy are critical to ensure your new brand will be well received. Depending on your goals and target audience, your rollout could be as simple as refreshing your website – followed by updating your marketing materials and signage – as your budget allows. In other scenarios, it could also involve issuing a press release or doing media interviews. No matter your approach, we recommend you bring attention to your strategy and plans – rather than focus too heavily on your new logo, look and feel. In many cases, a “big splash” isn’t necessary and can even backfire. 

5. Keeping the Momentum 

Your new logo is approved, your website is updated, now what? As part of the branding process, create a marketing strategy to bring the brand to life through tactics ranging from digital ads to public relations to new marketing collateral and events. For ideas, check out DCI’s Winning Strategies, which lists the best marketing tactics to reach site selectors and corporate executives, as well as Talent Wars, which dives into what drives talent location decisions.  

6. Measuring Effectiveness

How can I show this new brand and marketing campaign is working? We recommend establishing short-, mid- and long-term metrics to measure your brand’s impact. Short-term key performance indicators (KPIs) might include things like engagement on your website and earned media impressions. Mid-term, a few years after launching your new brand, conduct another perception survey to see how you’ve moved the needle. Long-term, you can look at broader economic impacts, knowing that they are influenced by a variety of factors (not just marketing).   

Considering a rebrand in your community? DCI’s branding and creative services are here to get you started! Get in touch with Dariel Curren at [email protected] to learn about the best way to collaborate and make your goals a reality. 

Written by

Dariel Curren

Executive Vice President