Thursday, March 01, 2012

Different Rocks- Deep In Any Community's True Personality

Geologically-speaking, Durham, North Carolina, where I live has a split personality. The majority of the land area within the urban growth boundary falls in what is known as a Triassic Basin.  As geologic time periods go this part of Durham was born about 200 million years ago during the era when dinosaurs first evolved from reptiles.

So while the incredible life-size replicas on the Dinosaur Trail at Durham's Museum of Life and Science may be from more recent eras, they are definitely symbolic of Durham's temporal personality or brand.  On the downside being located on a Triassic basin is putting Durham squarely in the bull's-eye for fracking.

Much of the northern part of Durham County, which includes one of the state’s most varied scenic byways and where I often take motorcycle rides, is underlain by what is known as the Carolina Slate Belt which is more than twice as old the Triassic part of Durham and is characterized by very primitive but diverse life forms such as trilobites.

Both formations provide Durham with its reputation for unique and unusual fossils.

For anyone tempted to go “one big region” on me, they should know that the Triangle is not only a family of diverse and distinct communities, but they also have “different rocks” with Durham sharing formations with its fellow- Metro Orange and Chatham counties and the Metro to the east underlain by formations such as the Raleigh Belt and the Eastern Slate Belt.

Reflecting their distinct personalities even today, much of Durham's geologic formation including Research Triangle Park and RDU are volcanic in a rift originating from the creation of the Atlantic Ocean while Raleigh’s were the result of intense pressure.  Sorry, the puns are irresistible.

It's too bad that so many people, including many in the news media, still seem to have such a superficial understanding about what a brand is and isn't, and usually believe that it is restricted only to the most shallow caricatures such as a tagline or advertisement.  In reality the community’s brand isn't about marketing.  But marketing should always be about the brand.

When it comes to a community’s brand or personality, it can never created, it must be distilled.  And that personality even includes a community’s geologic formation.  “Branding” isn't the brand itself, it is merely one of many elements of marketing that should be viewed and  used as a means to preserve and protect, and yes, promote the community's brand, it's innate, distinctive and temporal personality.

A community’s brand must reflect its deepest and most enduring traits and values, including both its inherent character, including flaws and its aspirations.  Absolutely every touch point and detail of a community's market should reflect it's brand or personality.

For example, if a community's personality values include a revulsion to outdoor billboards then not only should it’s official marketing organization refrain from using billboards either locally or in other communities or states where it may be pursuing potential visitors or newcomers or relocating businesses, but it should also advocate for other local businesses and organizations including hotels and restaurants to follow suit.

Similarly, if the community values green infrastructure such as trees and scenery, then it's marketing should first do no harm.

If an area’s marketing organization produces material or promotions that don't reflect that community’s truly inherent brand or personality and values, then that community would be much better off having no marketing at all.

No comments: