Happy One Year Anniversary

It is hard to believe, but the Strengthening Brand America project was introduced 1 year ago in March 2009. The mission of the community of practice is to catalyze the transfer of product and corporate branding knowledge from the private sector to the economic development community for reapplication in place branding. Hopefully, you will feel we have made progress in achieving that goal.

You may be interested to know some fun facts about the community of practice –

  • It is truly national – The site gets visits from all 50 states.
  • It is gaining in popularity globally – The site has had visits from over 100 countries.
  • The most popular section is the blog (53% of visits).
  • Guests are investing nearly 2 minutes with the information per visit.
  • 40% of guests come directly to the site, 37% are visiting from LinkedIn.
  • The community of practice has over 8,000 participants and is growing.
  • There is no revenue stream associated with this educational endeavor.

I started this journey with a simple vision – If we could dramatically improve the quality of place branding done by communities, regions and states we could (in aggregate) strengthen the global competitiveness of Brand America and reverse the declining share of global FDI inflow.

The mission is as valid and important today as it was a year ago. There is significant ground to be made up in competing with Brand E.U. and Brand Asia for global FDI inflow share leadership. Smaller EDO budgets are demanding more return on every dollar invested, and effective place branding can be an important enabler in helping accelerate economic recovery. Consequently, while progress has definitely been made there is much more to be accomplished before the mission is achieved.

I was so gratifying in Reno, at the IEDC Annual meeting, to be recognized as “The Brand America Guy”. Ohio had just won its third Site Selection Governor’s Cup in a row (with our 2009 win now four in a row) and I thought more attendees would be asking about the award. Interest in the Strengthening Brand America Project was evident and genuinely appreciated.

I am also grateful for a wonderful anniversary gift from GRIP Technology. In celebration of achieving the 1 year milestone, they have redesigned the Strengthening Brand America website to be even easier to navigate. Here are a few features I’d like to highlight for you –

  • Blog – The blog is now available under the tab titled “EXPERT ADVISE” or can be access by clicking on the latest blog post featured prominently on the home page. The blog is focused on translating product and corporate branding principles into the field of place branding. There are practical tips and tactics shared to make your job a little easier and ideally to help you be even more successful.
  • Expert Interviews – These interviews with branding experts can now be easily located under the “EXPERT ADVISE” tab as well. These interviews are intended to provide you with important perspective about branding based on the expert’s experience. They help you understand how to effectively implement the principles.
  • HOW TO EXECUTE – This new tab includes white papers and downloadable templates to make your local place branding efforts easier and more effective. You can learn the skills of self-branding, sales, marketing and brand building.
  • OTHER RESOURCES – This tab contains useful links to websites, papers, videos and a host of other information that will help you better understand how to plan and execute an effective place branding initiative. I am very excited about the “Recommended Feeds” page. Three of my most trusted websites for place branding are featured. It provides you one stop, easy access to some of the most current and cutting edge information from around the world. I genuinely hope you check it out and consider bookmarking it as a favorite page to visit often.
  • COLLEGE STUDENT’S CORNER – This tab takes you to a section where college students can ask the community questions about economic development. My vision for this section is mentor relationships will be formed and possible connections for employment will be created. Encouraging the best and brightest minds from our colleges and universities to consider a career in economic development is one more way we can Strengthen Brand America over time.

There are three things you can do to help year 2 be even more successful than year 1.

  1. Visit the website frequently and actively participate by sharing your thoughts as a comment on the blog posts. The more we share, the better learning experience we all have.
  2. Build awareness of the website as a resource of information on place branding. Share the website with a colleague and encourage them to visit by Forwarding it to a friend. Bookmark the website so you can visit it frequently to get tips and tactics on how to manage your local branding effort.
  3. Help create usage of the COLLEGE STUDENT’S CORNER. The more we can get professors and students engaged with the economic development community, the more effective our efforts will be. Encourage students you know to visit the CORNER and help answer questions that get posted. Your real world experience and perspective matters and will help students better understand what the economic development career looks like.

The traditional first year anniversary gift is paper. But that is so 20th century. Let’s make the first year anniversary gift paperless. If you would like to celebrate this Strengthening Brand America Project milestone with me, give the gift of sharing the great news with your network on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. Thank you in advance. With your help and continued participation, I am looking forward to an amazing year 2.

I hope you enjoy the updated look and improved visit experience. I would certainly like to get your thoughts about the change. Leave a comment.

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