How would you describe Fayetteville and Cumberland County to someone who has never visited? Would you talk about our area’s history or focus on the new baseball stadium and other projects contributing to its growth? Maybe you’d discuss the flowers in bloom, celebrated by the Spring Dogwood Festival. What about our diverse cultural, international, and military communities? You might even mention some of the challenges we are working to address at the community level to help make our city and county a better place for all. Would the person you are sharing this information with want to visit or move here based on the image or “brand” created by your description?
In order to develop an updated and unified approach to communicating our area’s strengths, assets, diversity, vision, and potential, the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and nine partner organizations have launched an intensive project to develop a community-wide branding platform. The Fayetteville Cumberland Collaborative Branding Committee (FCCBC) is leading this effort and includes representatives from the City, County, Cumberland County Tourism Development Authority (TDA), Vision 2026, Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Cool Spring Downtown District, Greater Fayetteville Chamber, Crown Complex, Cumberland County Schools, and the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation.
Our goal is to enhance efforts to attract new residents, businesses, and tourists, while developing an identity that all community members can embrace and proudly share. It is also intended to continue to evolve the collaboration between our public, private, and non-profit partners.
After a thorough selection and interview process, the FCCBC commissioned North Star Destination Strategies, a leader in place branding, to help us a create a new brand for our community – one of which we can all be proud, that showcases all we have to offer. North Star has an extensive background in creating cooperative brands for both governments and organizations, having worked with more than 250 communities in 44 states.
“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. In other words, your reputation,” explains Will Ketchum, President of North Star. “People have chosen to move to an area – without ever visiting – based on the word-of-mouth about it. Branding is what you do to change or refine that message. We are delighted to be working in Cumberland County in this capacity.”
North Star’s six to nine-month process involves research, strategy, and creative development phases. More than 15 pieces of qualitative and quantitative exploration are included in the first phase, measuring the positive and negative perceptions of residents, stakeholders, and visitors; assessing the regional environment and competition; and reviewing current marketing practices.
To ensure that the diverse perspectives of our community were represented from the start, during an initial visit in mid-February, the FCCBC arranged for North Star to meet with a broad range of interview and focus group participants. They sought input from young leaders, major employers, military families, municipal leaders, and entrepreneurs, as well as representatives from the education, business, arts, and faith communities. In total, their team engaged nearly 200 residents during this preliminary tour.
North Star also conducted a training session, preparing brand ambassadors to share information about the project with their respective stakeholders and the larger community. If you would like a Brand Ambassador to present to your civic group, church, or organization, please visit www.brandingfcnc.com.
In addition to follow-up interviews, a local leadership survey, and more focus groups, a “Community-wide Survey” will launch later this month, enabling thousands of residents to help shape the process. Please take and share this survey when it is released in the next few weeks. Your input is critical to developing a new brand that will resonate with current citizens, as well as potential new residents and businesses.
Using the information gathered, North Star will develop a Brand Platform conveying what makes our community unique while differentiating it from its regional and national competitors. The final stage includes a resource guide, which will include creative tools for all local organizations, businesses, and community members to utilize.
For more information about the project and to get involved, visit www.brandingfcnc.com.