The Benefits of Branding a Town
This is the text for a press release that was written for the Discover Danville Association
(Danville, CA…) A little over a year ago, a group of merchants in Danville, California converged to discuss how to turn their town into an attractive destination for tourists, families, and weekend travelers. Sitting in the Bay Area between Walnut Creek, a larger city with sprawling shopping malls and its share of superstores, and surrounded by the towns of Pleasanton, Dublin and San Ramon, the local merchants felt that Danville was often being overlooked as drivers made their way elsewhere.
In an effort to put Danville on the proverbial map, they decided to brand their town. To begin, they formed a new association called, the Discover Danville Association, then hired Marge Jensen, an expert in corporate branding, to help create the town's brand.
Initial funding for the branding campaign was contributed by the Town of Danville, surveys were distributed, and weekly meetings ensued. Bonnie Gutman, a local business woman became the spokesperson for the group, which in time, created the town's logo - which incorporated an image of the 300 year old oak tree which graces the town's square; a tagline - "Discover Danville"; and a brochure touting Danville as a desirable destination.
Sitting in the foothills of Mt. Diablo, Danville is, indeed, a very attractive destination for families, young couples, and people of all ages. Most importantly, Danville offers that small town feel that one might be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Picture tree-lined streets, sidewalk eateries, wonderful French boutiques, great coffee shops, and restaurants like Bridges of "Mrs Doubtfire" fame, as well as parks and walking paths, like the Iron Horse Trail where people walk, bike, run and rollerblade, and unique shops, from consignment stores to children's clothes. The town also boasts a popular Fall Arts & Crafts Fair, parades, and numerous historical sites, from Towe House, a popular writer's haven, to a classic railroad museum.
When the Discover Danville campaign began, Jensen noticed that the various people who participated pulled together in a way that they never had before. Everyone, from the mayor and the local politicians, to the members of the Chamber of Commerce, to the unaffiliated merchants, of which 45 are now members, to the town's Economic Development Committee, to other interested individuals in the community, worked together to discuss the town brand and the needs of the town as a whole.
Says Jensen, "In many communities, people are trying to figure out how to get various factions to work together. You might have your Chamber of Commerce wanting one thing and your local politicians wanting another. However, when you say you're branding a town, everyone can get behind it and makes it part of their goal. What we've seen from this effort is that people are embracing the idea and are working together as a unified group, as one cohesive unit, rather than independently. There are no barriers. All the sides have come together."
Jensen notes that in this economic environment where people often struggle to stay in business, branding a town positively impacts everyone, from the smallest business to the largest one. Says Jensen, "When the town came together through the branding process, we all began to think about how to support the smaller businesses. We realized that the smaller businesses were equally important to the healthiness of the town, as were the larger businesses, and the individuals who comprised the town."
"We don't want empty storefronts," says Jensen. We want everyone to be successful. As a unified group, we are much stronger in being able to promote the town, which then supports all of our merchants and their success, as well as the health of the community as a whole."
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