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Maine's newest city to announce 'branding' campaign

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Posted: Friday, April 5, 2013 9:05 am

SANFORD – A Sanford branding effort, which has been a work in progress since last year, is finally set to unveil a new city logo and motto during a celebration of Sanford’s jump to Maine’s newest city.

A rollout event in a few weeks – the date hasn’t been set yet – will be the culmination of the project, a collaborative effort between the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council and the public relations firm Nancy Marshall Communications. The initiative is aimed at giving Sanford’s image an update through what’s being called a “re-branding” campaign. Many Sanford officials think it is essential to attract new business and economic activity in the region.

In a presentation to the former Town Council in November, Nancy Marshall unveiled two potential logo and slogan options. One features the phrase, “Explore. Create. Grow,” while the other says, “Great for business. Great for life.” Sanford residents were asked to vote on their preferred logo and tagline through both online and paper ballots that were distributed through Sanford City Hall, the economic growth council office, and Sanford schools.

Jim Nimon, director of the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council, updated the City Council of the plans Tuesday. He said the event would occur during the last week of April or first week of May.

Nimon said the conversation about a branding initiative was begun more than a year ago. Leading up to the logos created by Nancy Marshall Communications, Sanford held a series of focus groups aimed at gathering residents’ opinions. Each group was asked the same questions, designed to extract the most important features of Sanford and identify an overall message.

While voting on the logo ended just after the New Year, Nimon said that since the initial logo presentation, both the growth council and the PR firm have worked on the campaign based on input from the public.

“We’ve continued to refine and fine tune, and we’re now prepared to do a much larger rollout event of our plan come month’s end,” Nimon said. Results of the voting will also be announced.

He added that Nancy Marshall has played an important role throughout the process, which he called a combination of facilitation and analysis.

“She’s read a lot of information and interviewed a lot of people within the community,” he said. “We’re taking all of that, putting it in a blender and coming up with a plan to move forward.”

Nimon says the event would also be a chance to celebrate Sanford as a city, since there has not been an official celebration since the community made the change from a town to city form of government on Jan. 1.

“We’d like to celebrate the city,” he said. “We’re going to use every chance we can to celebrate the fact that we’re Maine’s newest city.”

He added that co-branding is an important part of the process, and residents and businesses in the area need to be on board with the campaign for it to be successful.

“We have to provide a branding toolkit for all Sanford businesses, organizations and community members who will help us improve the way we portray our town, soon to be city,” Nimon said during the November presentation.

During his presentation to the council, Nimon described the campaign as a way to build on attributes of the city, and to differentiate Sanford from other communities vying for the support of area businesses. He gave an example of businesses adding the new Sanford logo to letterheads and signage, in order to show support of the Sanford name.

Nancy Marshall, the agency principal of Nancy Marshall Communications, said her agency has focused on the economic development aspect of the campaign, in order to get regional companies outside Sanford on board with the campaign as well.

“We have brought our significant expertise in economic development marketing to bear on Sanford, so we can provide the best advice and guidance to the growth council,” she said.

Marshall added that her agency has been actively involved with the growth council leading up to its final approval of the marketing approach to be unveiled at the event.

“The plan will include the logo selected by the community and provide examples of how other agencies and companies can co-brand so Sanford gets brand recognition both inside and outside the city.”

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