Vision, rebranding, strategic plan … call it what you will – the bottom line remains that, to the outside world, the image of Brantford remains clouded.
Muddy and disjointed, at best.
If the city is going to alter that perception – and yes, we understand that many local voices will probably come to the Telephone City’s defence, and we’re referring to the “small-town-feel-big-city-vibe” contingent – it’s time to get our collective heads out of the sand.
We do not, as a complete entity, market ourselves to a larger stage very effectively.
I am assuming that would be the ultimate goal of any legitimate rebranding effort. If it isn’t, it should be.
We understand that this process has already begun, with a community-based branding and re-marketing campaign task force in place that, idealistically, will act as council’s guide in helping reshape the city’s public image.
This group should make sure, however, that careful attention is paid to the big picture. Brantford will get one shot at this – how it portrays itself to residents and beyond. Drop the ball, and the current mish-mosh could very well remain the status quo for years to come.
And hasn’t that been the case in previous marketing efforts?
It’s time to be bold; it’s time to remove the blinders and separate the wheat from the chaff.
Then go with it and make a big splash. There’s no other sensible way.
There’s lots to work with, don’t get me wrong. For example, kudos should go out to top-notch events that are drawing visitors to the area. Whether it’s Hockeyfest, the Brantford International Jazz Festival, Tweetstock, Brantford Barks, the upcoming Grandelicious Food & Wine Show, or the Brantford Comedy Festival, it’s obvious mass-appeal activities are increasing. But they are transitory, for the most part.
And right now, as a whole, those prize pieces are disconnected. That needs to change.
But that’s only part of the puzzle. There needs to be a solid hook, and next week we will look at how a new green philosophy could be that linchpin.
This won’t be tree hugger stuff. It’s about quality of life. In the end, that could be the city’s biggest drawing card. Then other positives could be identified, grouped and presented accordingly, in supporting roles.
What’s more, do we really need the rebrand to be aimed at people who actually live here now? Shouldn’t the initiative be targeted at outsiders, those perhaps interested in paying a visit to the city or, better still, those businesses and people that might be interested in relocating here?
Realistically, today, you probably have only a brief opportunity for a positive first impression.
Say, for example, you live in a larger centre and are looking around Southern Ontario for another place to live, another kind of lifestyle.
What would most do? Hit the internet, of course, and head to a city’s website. And as that web portal stands now in Brantford, can anyone actually say that the first glimpse would blow any visitor away? Make them want to immediately sell the house, pack up the wife and kids and join the rush to B-Town?
There’s lots of information at brantford.ca, admittedly, but it is not presented in a focused nor dynamic manner. The rebranding would definitely have to address that issue. And we don’t want to hear that stretched-thin staffing prevents this remake from taking place. Many in the private sector accomplish much more, with much less.
The city needs to make this happen. Build a hierarchy on the site as a focal point of the rebranding, strongly identify what distinctive message we want to put out there, then connect the dots in a way that truly defines our essence and sets us apart.
Maybe then, one of the slogan’s from the city’s strategic plan will actually begin to mean something tangible. And we quote: “Community Vision / Brantford – proud, vibrant, progressive … a “GRAND” community for living, learning, working and playing.”
Sounds an awful lot like lifestyle to me.
(First installment of a two-part series from Green Matters)
Elsewhere around The Green Hub in Southern Ontario: It’s that time of year, again. Beginning on Monday, April 30, the City of Brantford will be offering free compost to residents while quantities last at the Mohawk Street landfill site. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. The limit is the equivalent of two full garbage bags … And then on Saturday, May 5, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the city will be holding its annual composter sale for Brantford residents. The cost? $20 each, at the Canadian Tire on Lynden Road … And more on compost: In an earlier Green Matters column, we reported that Susan Friedl of Amani Acres farm in Brant County was offering a compost/mulch giveaway to recognize Earth Day. Friedl said that the event went well, with a “steady stream of traffic.” Added Friedl: “I would say we shovelled close to 100 cubic yards and made about $650 (in free-will donations for the BluRein Foundation, an initiative in the Dominican Republic.) I even had one grandmother bring her granddaughter to scoop up some compost, take pictures and do a class presentation.”
Greg McMillan is a founding partner at TheGreenHub.ca – Canada’s green news and information web portal. Feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any comments or suggestions for topics to be covered in the Green Matters column. That could mean green lifestyle, business or human-interest items, including any personal or school-related projects or initiatives. In this column, we’ll write about people who live in the Southern Ontario Green Hub area, which includes Brantford, Six Nations, Brant, Norfolk and Haldimand counties. Also, follow us on Twitter / @the_green_hub and @TheHubMan or Facebook / thegreenhub or Linkedin at gregmcmillan