Understanding Culture’s Role in Enhancing Your City’s Identity

By Sharon McCormick, Director of Business Attraction & Marketing

In Celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, let’s start with a few stats.

Enhancing Your City’s Identity

The Hispanic Heritage statistics provided above are crucial for developing an effective marketing strategy and for programming social offerings that will enhance your city’s brand and reach multi-cultural audiences.

While experiential marketing is one of the latest buzz words, when it comes to city and place branding, a person’s experience has always been how the place’s brand truly became known. In our work helping cities reinvent themselves, we see it every day. What people – residents, visitors, businesses, developers, investors – think and say about a city is what that city becomes known for. Our favorite definition of “brand” is Al Reis’s, “your brand is the singular thought you hold in the mind of a prospect.” That being said, it’s critical that if you want to be known for “something,” you (the city) have to be deliberate about how you project yourself to your audiences. From every touch point in city hall, to all public spaces and city run facilities, and even to your businesses and neighborhoods. What do you want people to “feel” or “think about” when they enter your city?

Here are 3 ideas to consider when developing a strong identity for your city through experiential marketing:

  1. Are the entry points to your city clearly marked and does the entry signage and landscaping represent what a visitor can expect to experience in and around your city? Will they see a well thought out entry and feel the pride and care you have for your city (even if you have some areas that need to be upgraded or redeveloped, you have only one chance to make a “first” impression). Consider developing a Beautification Committee or Foundation to focus on the physical beauty of entryways and corridors.
  2. Does everyone (even those with a problem or complaint) feel welcome when they enter your city hall or each time they enter a city department? Consider customer service training specifically designed for government employees. Also, check out National Welcoming Week 2018 from September 14th to 23rd. During this annual series of events, communities bring together immigrants, refugees, and native-born residents to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone. In 2017, there were more than 700 events around the country.
  3. How easy is it for people to find out about events and happenings in your city? Consider adding or updating an event calendar to your city’s website, creating Facebook event pages for special events and adding all of your events and local partner organization’s events to Eventbrite. Check out the City of Pompano Beach’s event calendar for a good example of this, or visit https://www.eventbrite.com/rally/ for emerging tech-based ideas to broaden your event message reach.

From aesthetics, to customer service and a welcoming atmosphere, to special events and social offerings, cities have the opportunity to provide unforgettable experiences at a myriad of touch points. People remember experiences; they remember how they feel.