Building and maintaining brand awareness: starting from the bottom?

Just about everyone on the planet is aware of brands such as Apple, Google, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and the like, but building such global awareness takes time and effort. Branding is about how the public in general and potential customers in particular, perceive the company. Is it trustworthy? Does it offer good quality, reliable products or services and what is its stance on environmental issues? The brand represents the entire company: its employees, website, social media presence, its logo and how it interacts with customers, all the way down to the manner in which a member of staff answers the phone.

Building a company brand is therefore more complex than it might, at first glance, appear but what about creating a brand designed to attract investors to an entire town: ‘place branding’? Actually, the fundamental principles are much the same. The purpose of branding is to set the individual company or town apart from its competitors, generate referrals, promote recognition, connect with potential customers and investors, add value and guarantee on-time delivery. The brand should also inspire, motivate and generate a sense of pride and belonging.

Place branding is used to boost a town’s economy by increasing awareness of what it has to offer investors in terms of the specialist skills of its inhabitants, its location in relationship to airports, ports, railroad and road networks and any financial incentives available to companies or entrepreneurs prepared to relocate to the area. As with company branding, the emphasis is on creating a campaign, which, over time, will result in the town concerned building a reputation that will encourage long-term inward investment and persuade both individuals and companies that it is a good place in which to live and do business. It is therefore essential to sell the entire package, including infrastructure, housing, recreational facilities, schools and colleges, environment and surroundings.

In the past, carrying out such an undertaking and making a success of it was incredibly labor intensive and time consuming. However, in recent years, the advent of the internet has simplified the task to some extent but the amount of computer hardware, in the form of powerful servers and database systems which required in-house IT departments to maintain and upgrade, still made it prohibitively expensive, even for towns with several thousand inhabitants.

Fortunately, much has changed thanks to cloud computing, which has largely removed the need for much of the hardware previously required. Now, the banks of servers necessary to run complex databases and management systems have been made obsolete, as all the software systems are cloud-based, stored on remote servers and accessed via the internet. Apart from the cost savings in this area, which are substantial, cloud computing makes it possible to purchase software systems on a monthly subscription basis. This also means upgrades are provided as soon as they become available and data can be accessed by authorized individuals, wherever they may be, using smart phones and tablet PCs.

Advice on how best to proceed with the implementation of a place branding campaign is available from companies specializing in cloud-based technologies. A good place to start might be to contact Infor CEO Charles Phillips, whose company specializes in offering expertise in a whole range of technologically advanced services, including place branding.

Starting a branding campaign from scratch represents a major undertaking. Get it wrong and it could be years before the problem can be rectified, if at all. Investors have long memories, especially when significant amounts of their own money are involved, so it is essential to avoid taking shortcuts. Instead, employ the services of a highly experienced team with the expertise to understand precisely what is required and then proceed to implement a strategy designed to produce a form of branding everyone in the town can be proud of and which will result in a long-term boost to the local economy.

 

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