The Shenandoah Valley is dotted with charming communities ranging from tiny towns to modest sized cities. With a population of roughly 6,500, Strasburg, Virginia, is definitely a small town. Surrounded by slightly larger and better-known communities — like Front Royal to the east, Winchester to the north and Harrisonburg to the south — Strasburg was experiencing a bit of an identity crisis. Thankfully, town leaders knew that even small towns can benefit from a creative and professional brand image.
An examination of Strasburg reveals undeniable proof that small towns can have complex and vibrant personalities. Strasburg did not fit nicely into any of the molds for Shenandoah Valley towns, yet it had elements of many of them. For example, Strasburg has historic attractions, including a Civil War battle site. It is surrounded by mountain scenery with a pristine river running through it. It’s close to urban amenities, yet retains its rural character and Main Street appeal with no big box stores or shopping malls. It also has deep divisions between those who want to see the town grow and those who prefer it just as it is. In other words, Strasburg is both wonderful and complicated.
Our research included the usual tools, such as stakeholder and community surveys, in-person visits, and an analysis of competitors. In this case, though, our team also had lots of one-on-one conversations with community leaders, including the mayor and every member of the town council. These discussions gave our team extremely valuable insights.
The numerous things that make Strasburg complex are all equally important to the town’s personality. There are many interesting aspects to the town and knowing and understanding them all makes Strasburg a more appealing place for visitors, entrepreneurs and even residents. That key insight is the basis of the brand messaging and ultimately the campaign “Discover the Different Sides of Strasburg.”
The brand strategy appealed to the town leadership. They immediately understood how it captured the essence of the town and could contribute to solving an important challenge. The brand identity is anchored by a logo that features some iconic symbols of the town — the local water tower and the unmistakable shape of Signal Knob, the mountain on the edge of town.
The ad campaign has proven to be quite versatile. An ad promoting economic development focuses on the competitive and entrepreneurial sides of Strasburg. A tourism ad touts the scenic, historic and welcoming sides of the town. Additional ads were developed for communication between the town and residents about programs and special events.
The branding process seems to have accomplished something that a few skeptics thought would be possible. It has helped unite the residents of this charming town.
— Michelle Bixler, Economic Development & Marketing Manager for Strasburg, VA
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