by Carlotta Ungaro
One year ago, my Fayette Citizen column was titled, “What’s In a Brand?” I talked about the importance of community branding because the Fayette County Development Authority (FCDA) had plans for a new brand. However, during their due diligence, FCDA decided their branding effort would be stronger if it also included two additional objectives in the Fayette Visioning plan, community cohesiveness and talent attraction.
Most people understand community cohesiveness but what is talent attraction? We define it as attracting young families that place a high value on education to Fayette County. We have built our County’s reputation on excellent K-12 education but we are not standing out on this asset as well as we have in the past. The need to do a better job of telling our Fayette story is even more critical in today’s world of 140-character messaging, information overload and constant distractions. A concise, authentic, and cohesive message along with a well-executed solid marketing strategy can help break through the communication clutter.
The Fayette Chamber and FCDA have brought together local experts and passionate citizens that are graciously offering up their time and expertise to serve on a branding task force. We asked our local government leaders, as well as leaders with Peachtree City Convention & Visitors Bureau and Main Street Fayetteville, to identify people with expertise in community development. We found out that Fayette County has a high concentration of community development leaders living right here! The team includes an economic development consultant, leaders in our local art community and numerous others with marketing expertise from various industries. The task force also includes two Fayette County residents that worked directly on the Atlanta Chamber’s groundbreaking talent attraction campaign called ChooseATL, as well as Commissioner Steve Brown who was on its advisory board. The primary responsibilities of the task force are to select the firm that will develop the brand and strategy and to oversee the rollout.
Last year’s article defined branding as “building the identity of a product or service, organization, individual and yes, even a community through marketing and messaging.” Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, hit the nail on the head on how social media has changed the way we market when he said, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” For a community, Cook’s statement means the brand message must be authentic, believable and reflect the culture and characteristics of that community. The task force has taken this mantra to heart as they go through the firm selection and plan implementation processes.
This branding campaign is a public-private partnership. Funds to develop and execute the plan come from our local governments, community marketing partners and the private sector. For updates on the branding project, please sign up for the Fayette Visioning newsletter at Fayette@fayettevisioning.org. We will also be reporting to our partners, including local governments as this project progresses.