Friday, July 25, 2008


There are two sure-fire signals a new community brand signature isn’t going to work. And they both involve residents or local stakeholders more than external audiences.

One is when the universal “peanut gallery” reaction (e.g., my baby sister can draw one better than that) fuels on itself rather than subsides. The other is when no one says anything at all, e.g., it just doesn’t resonate…it isn’t memorable.

With all of the scientific research tools available, it still comes down to that one word…resonate. If after deployment, it doesn’t resonate with stakeholders who live and breathe a community and deliver on the brand day in and day out, you’re in big trouble but have lots of company.

It is natural that brand signatures have to grow on you. It’s change, and folks typically don’t jump up and down in excitement about change, except in the current election. But if in a short time a brand signature doesn’t start to grow on people, it’s DOA.

But a real sign things are going in the right direction is 1) when organizations and individuals in your community want to link to it or use it and 2) when community leaders and news editors begin to cite it.

Most people make the mistake of believing a brand is the art work. Actually a signature is just a highly distilled way to remind people of the brand or bring it to their attention.

Saying the signature is the same as a brand is like saying your new hair cut defines your personality. Nope, at least not for long.

Durham gets a lot of credit for 1) attempting not only to distill a brand but an infinitely more complex overarching brand, one that will give all messengers a common voice and 2) introducing a lot of science into the process at least into destination community brands.

But we’re also very, very fortunate that less than two years since deployment that community leaders are regularly using it in conversation and speeches, more than 300 businesses, organizations and individuals are showcasing it, surveys confirm it already has recognition and acceptance by 80% of residents and finally, it made its way onto the editorial pages, the toughest group of all.


Valerie at We Love Durham said...

When you say these businesses, etc. are using the brand, do you mean the Durham stars logo? Or using the tagline "Where Great Things Happen"? Or something else?

I like this post. It is thought-provoking. I was just unclear about that.

Reyn said...

Sorry for the delay during this trip.

Businesses, organizations and individuals have been deploying the brand in many different ways:

• Most popular is putting a bug we provide of the signature on their website and linking through to .
• Many are working brand terminology into speeches and brochures
• Some do things like ice carvings of the signature (logo, mark and tag)
• Some have redesigned their own logos to incorporate WGTH

Long way to go though. Some don’t understand that overarching means it is an umbrella tying individual brands together. Others haven’t read the manual and don’t realize the brand is much more than the logo/tag.

You can see some ideas on . Registration is open to Durham businesses, organizations, individuals and folks working here. It is a portal to online versions of the manual and uses and also some instructions.