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Branding & Marketing Plan
A need was identified to better communicate the value and advantage of locating in Manchester for employers and talent. Though Manchester has many assets incredibly unique to the region, the state, and a town of its size, including the Whitewater park, a thriving local brewery, and a downtown square with few vacancies, knowledge of these assets outside of Manchester is low.
During the branding process, stakeholders and steering committee members were solicited on design choices and tagline choices including the current, “Family, Community, Opportunity,” and McClure’s suggestion: “Iowa’s Best Kept Secret.”
A multi-track internal and external promotional program will help raise the city’s external profile and attract interest to the community. Stakeholders noted that simply reaching consensus on a cohesive graphical style, font, and color palette would represent progress.
Creating a Strong Brand
Manchester’s current logo depicts three petals of a tulip surrounded by a circle with three offset dots. The number three is echoed in their slogan: “Family. Community. Opportunity.”
The colors: brown, baby blue, and light french grey, while professional and polished, are slightly unimaginitave and do little to capture the spirit of Manchester.
These colors are found in existing signage in Manchester, as seen above. However, there is an opportunity to brighten the color scheme to re-energize the Manchester brand.
Building off of broad community input during the visioning sessions and online survey responses, McClure began the branding process by confirming what Manchester residents most identify with their own city, which can then be leveraged into a brand used to identify it everywhere.
Based on our team’s experience in Manchester, community input in visioning sessions, and general public perception, Manchester does resonate with their current motto: Family. Community. Opportunity. Not only is the city a great place to raise a family and build a community, but Manchester is full of opportunity.
While other towns face vacant downtown storefronts and blight, Manchester has an unbelievable downtown occupancy rate of 99% and boasts a local brewery and thriving retail. Manchester is also locally famous for its whitewater park, a well-loved anomaly in the Midwest.
Using the same favicon present in the original logo, but changing colors to better represent the feeling of Manchester is a simple solution that would retain current brand identity.
For example, pulling inspiration from the Whitewater Park and city signage, both of which use a yellow/orange gradient with blue accents, the icon becomes more representative of the city and the natural resources for which it is known.
Manchester’s current logo makes use of a circular icon but abandons the shape when dealing with the text. This version has the text wrapping around the circle, making the design more cohesive. It also helps to explain the symbology of the icon: the three petals and circulating dots standing for family, community, and opportunity.
The cursive-like font used in the current logo makes the brand seem older and potentially stale. With a quick change to Montserrat, a freely available and widely popular Google Font, the logo becomes modern and refreshed.
This version could easily be applied to highway or wayfinding signage, badges, and documents. The new combination of color, font, and shape both simplifies and updates the visual.
Three entirely new external logos were created and submitted to stakeholders for input. While feedback was positive, there was an agreed upon hesitation about abandoning the existing Manchester brand, especially due to the associated costs of changing existing signage. Therefore, Manchester’s project team chose to utilize the refreshed logo as both the internal and external brand.
For any branding and marketing strategy to be successful, there must be a clear goal and a targeted audience. Manchester’s long term goal is to attract new residents to their town by marketing their small-town feel, unique amenities, and their prime location within easy driving distance of several larger metro areas.
In February of 2019, the Iowa Economic Development Association (IEDA) culminated a large market research project designed to give insights into perceptions and motivations related to Iowa.
IEDA found that for most people to consider relocating to another city, travel is the first critical step. People of all age groups require a tangible feel of the community before considering a move.
This is fortunate news to Manchester, as tourism is something already on their minds, and attracting tourists in the summer for the Whitewater rafting and outdoor amenities is a tangible first step in recruiting long-term residents.
We can begin by marketing Manchester’s tourism attractions to our top tier target audiences, defined below.
Tier 1 (Most Likely to Relocate)
“Boomerangs:” men and women originally from the area who have moved away and are looking to move back (specifically to start a family or due to being priced out of a larger city).
Within this group, young families (parents aged 24-32) are most likely to consider moving back near family for assistance with child care and a strong support network. Many in this audience have already considered moving to Manchester, but need a “trigger” (job offer, life event).
Tier 2 (Most Likely to Visit Manchester and Spread Word of Mouth)
Rural Travel Enthusiasts: Adults (30-55) with disposable income for travel who can visit and recommend the region to others.
Currently, rural travel is a trend among younger and older people alike. Young people are looking for unique “instagrammable” experiences that none of their peers have experienced, so smaller towns are appealing. Older audiences interested in boutique shopping and road trips are also a niche that would likely be attracted to visit Manchester.
Tier 3 (A.K.A. “The Long Shot”)
Quality of life Nomads: People looking for quality of life amenities specific to the town or region (outdoor amenities like the water park, small town amenities such as friendliness and ability to get involved in local politics, entrepreneurial amenities such as small business community support, etc.)
These people are the most difficult to reach, as they come from a variety of different backgrounds and locations. However, these are the most likely to be successful once they move to Manchester, as they actively look to get involved.
Most people think of marketing as an external goal, telling the story of your town to people who don’t know about it. However, the first—and most critical—step in any branding and marketing effort is internal. The message must be agreed upon and solidified by the current residents of Manchester.
Many rural towns across America struggle with marketing “to-do’s” that can easily and effectively be handled internally. The first step is for Manchester to formally adopt the new brand: the logo, color scheme, and font. Municipal offices should adopt the logo digitally, swapping the new for the old, and physically, printing new business cards and other stationary items, pictured below. Large quantities of buttons can be made relatively inexpensively and should be passed out to residents at the next large town festival or event to garner excitement around the new look.
Furthermore, in the age of “influencer” marketing, it is important to realize that the current residents of Manchester are one of the best resources at Manchester’s disposal. Though Manchester is small, the people that live there have large friend networks across the state and even nationally. Positive perceptions of Manchester on social media can go a long way.
Ask residents to leave positive reviews of their favorite Manchester shops, restaurants, and other venues on Google Maps and Yelp. These are the two tools used most by road travelers when deciding where to stop for lunch or for the night. Pictures are by far the easiest way to reach people. Likely, everyone in Manchester has a favorite shop or lunch spot, but very few of these places have strong online presences. Ask promoters to take pictures of their meals and post to review sites and social media. A little positive buzz can go a long way. Unfortunately, most people only feel motivated to leave a review after a bad experience, so the positive ones often fall to the wayside.
It is vitally important to get support from local businesses as well. A “business badge” window sticker program is another relatively inexpensive action item to implement, and will allow local businesses to show their Manchester pride while feeling like a part of something bigger.
The business badges can be customized to specific businesses, venues, and even events. They should be distributed around the town for maximum visibility and to showcase all the things that make Manchester a great place for “Family, Community, and Opportunity.”
Next, we can begin thinking about how to target our identified external audiences. The first step is tourism, so advertisements that focus on the attractions of Manchester are the first logical step.
A dual digital and physical advertising campaign is the way to reach the most of our audiences with the same message. Ads on Facebook and other social networking sites can be targeting to specific audience factor, such as gender, age, and location. To reach potential boomerangs, location specifications should be made. To reach the traveling audience, roadside advertisements are old-fashioned, but still effective. Presented below is an example of a billboard advertisement for Manchester.
During the branding development phase, the tagline “Iowa’s Best Kept Secret” was proposed as a potential slogan. While this campaign was considered, stakeholders felt that “Family. Community. Opportunity” still resonates most powerfully for internal and external audiences. However, for particular opportunities like a highway billboard, that slogan can still be incorporated if desired to generate tourism interest.
As mentioned several times in the visioning sessions and during in-person meetings, a perceived issue Manchester has is lack of wayfinding, New visitors getting off the highways are not taking ideal routes to experience the most Manchester has to offer, and some are missing the downtown area entirely.
With the updated brand comes an exciting opportunity to replace or implement consistent city-wide wayfinding signage. Presented below are initial concepts created by McClure; for full fabrication details, a design firm should be partnered with to adhere to Iowa Department of Transportation set standards.