Chamber: Branding communicates competitive advantageWritten by Mark A. V'Soske | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout this past year, many development and community organizations as well as private companies have engaged in identifying, developing and implementing a brand for the Toledo Region. You might say we already have a brand, such as the Glass City. However, the branding I am referring to is not a tag, not a slogan and not a bumper sticker — it is an initiative which ultimately positions the Toledo region with a unique and compelling offering as a civic destination for residents, businesses and their employees and visitors and one that no other destination could legitimately claim with the same level of credibility and conviction.
Branding is creating and communicating a competitive advantage so strong that we beat the competition for talent and business attraction, grow the awareness of the Toledo region nationwide and completely change the image of our region to the outside world.
Just as all of the area economic development organizations are working together, the branding initiative is also a collaborative effort including (in no particular order): Destination Toledo, Toledo Mud Hens, the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, the City of Toledo, Lucas County, the Lucas County Improvement Corporation, The Toledo Community Foundation, the Greater Toledo Urban League, the Greater Downtown Business Partnership, Job 1 USA, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Regional Growth Partnership and others.
In developing the Toledo region story, the branding team conducted meetings in communities throughout the region to gain input from residents. Numerous focus groups were conducted as well as an online survey was available for residents to provide their input about the region’s attributes and their view of the region.
The research led to the development of what is called the Toledo Region Brand Platform, the basis for how our region is positioned in ongoing communication and marketing. The foundation of the brand platform is the positioning statement: “The Toledo Region is the heart of the New Manufacturing Economy.” Overwhelmingly, the research from residents told us that manufacturing was the key element in our region now and in the future.
Work is currently under way implementing the brand platform in a number of ways. A few of the implementation strategies include asking local businesses to adopt the brand messaging into their own documents, advertising, communications and any vehicles that reference where they are located. Economic development agencies will be using the platform to enhance their attraction and retention programs and communications. Finally, before the end of the first quarter of this year, a Toledo region website will go live providing access all of the assets of the Toledo region and become the region’s virtual front door.
Mark A V’Soske is president of Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce.