Rebranding Initiative History
In 2020 the City of Burlington applied to the Department of Tourism for a Joint Effort Marketing Grant (JEM) or Destination Marketing grant. The Destination Marketing grant is a 3-year cycle that allows the City to refine and define its vision for a rebrand. Guidelines for the grant include: reimbursement up to $34,550 for the first year of the grant, and possible grants for subsequent years.
This journey began in 2015 when the Burlington Common Council approved its 2016-2018 Strategic Plan. One of the Strategic Priorities outlined Economic Development which incorporated thriving retail areas and the overall reduction of empty storefront buildings. The city’s empty storefronts have dramatically reduced; however, have not been completely eliminated. This is key as thriving downtowns increase tourism. In 2016, as a part of this Strategic Priority, several committees each comprised of business owners and city staff that included various degrees of success.
In 2018, Racine County, Real Racine, The City of Burlington and the Village of Waterford, hired Roger Brooks to “secret shop” each of the communities and to provide an overall assessment specific to Tourism and Marketing. In the City of Burlington, Roger Brooks outlined approximately seventy-three (73) areas of improvement from branding to wayfinding signage. Based on the momentum of the Destination Assessment, the Re-Branding Committee was formed. This community minded group composed of local businesses utilized Roger Brooks’ Step-By Step Guide to Branding ultimately vetting four possible Branding themes for the City of Burlington. The “City of Trails” rose to the top in which the committee held a public meeting and had over 30 signatures from the local business supporting the endeavor. The recommendation of the Branding Committee had been presented to the City of Burlington Park Board and Common Council; however, questions still remained.
In late 2020, the City entered into an agreement with GrahamSpencer a branding firm, to conduct thorough research and prepare strategic recommendations to effectively and creatively re-brand our community.
With the guidance of Graham Spencer, a clear, concise message for future messaging can be developed and the market can be tested. The research process included interviewing stakeholders from the original branding committee, economic development professionals, Common Council members and staff. The data to collect was impressions on tourism, business investment, quality of life and their overall experiences. In addition to interviews, Jay Graham completed a Brand audit of Burlington, audits of surrounding municipalities referred to in the interview process, audits of other municipalities that had either gold star strategies and/or strategies needing more attention. Graham identified Burlington’s strengths/weaknesses relating to visiting, economic development, business relations, tourism, resident retention/attraction, livability and workforce as shown in the GSearch: Summary Report below.
Upon completion of the data collection, GrahamSpencer outlined the analysis of the competitive position the City of Burlington is poised in. Jay Graham outlined our competing markets, demographics and threats/opportunities the community is and will face to determine our market position.
As the branding initiative is still in draft mode, next steps will include refinement of the tagline and future logo and ultimate approval by the Common Council.