For as long as I've lived in beautiful Roanoke, Virginia, I've heard some community leaders lament the lack of a cohesive regional brand. Several years ago a group tried to pull it off with an effort called NewVa. What's that, you've never heard of it? Let's just say it didn't exactly catch on. The geographic size of the place being branded doesn't matter nearly as much as the creativity, vision and differentiation of the brand strategy. So, today I'm writing in praise of the variety of strong brands that exist within the region commonly known as the Roanoke Valley of Virginia.
• The City of Roanoke has done a tremendous job of implementing their brand strategy. It's highly visible on signage, vehicles and all communications from city departments. It projects a modern and professional image that I hope promotes civic pride.
• Botetourt County, which is on the northern edge of the Roanoke Valley, has a strong county government brand and an even stronger tourism brand. In some ways, including innovation and tourism product development, Botetourt County has been leading the rest of the region. Full disclosure: Botetourt County is a client.
• No discussion of Roanoke Valley brands could be complete without mentioning Roanoke Outside, which is working hard to develop the region's outdoor reputation. And they are doing a great job, not only through advertising and marketing but also by making the product better by hosting great events and recruiting outdoor-oriented businesses to the valley.
• The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau recently launched a new website, which completes the implementation of a great new brand strategy. While the new site was being developed the RVCVB had launched a new advertising campaign and published a new Visitors Guide. Full disclosure: the RVCVB is a client and a case study of the rebranding was recently posted on our website.
As a resident of Roanoke and a tourism branding specialist, I am not troubled one bit by the overlap in these brands. They don’t conflict. In fact, they complement one another. I think the entire region benefits by having strong and compelling brand identities all around.
That's my opinion, what's yours? Do you have a regional branding challenge where you live? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.