Is Our Community Part of Your Brand?
The tie between an attraction (or business) and the community where it’s located is an important consideration for virtually any destination (or business). By nature, there will always be some connection, but strategic decisions can strengthen these community connections.
3 Minute Read.
WOULD YOU BENEFIT FROM STRONGER COMMUNITY TIES? (SPOILER ALERT: YOU PROBABLY WOULD.)
A major consideration is where a destination (or business) draws its visitors, and whether it would like to broaden that demographic. Most destinations fall into three general categories:
- Visitors are drawn almost exclusively from the community where they are located.
- A mix of guests, with some awareness and demand from out-of-town visitors (i.e., “If I visit (Community), I’d like to visit (Attraction).”)
- Regional, national, or global draws that are based almost entirely on an attraction brand.
The third category is less common. The Smithsonian, for example, draws visitors from around the globe without a strong need to tie its brand closely with Washington, D.C., or the city’s other attractions, to the point that it even recruits digital volunteers from around the world to help with its collections. Disney and Universal parks are also great examples, drawing guests from around the world based almost solely on their own brand reputations.Most destinations (or businesses) into the first two categories and that means it’s likely worth putting some thought into the mutual benefits of further embracing your community in your branding.
HOW DOES MY ATTRACTION CONTRIBUTE TO PLACEMAKING?
What makes the San Antonio River Walk one of Texas’ top destinations? It’s a combination of attractions, attractively marketed collectively as a cohesive whole. What started as a practical solution to mitigate flooding risks shifted over time to a must-see destination for anyone visiting South Texas, thanks to the collective efforts of historical attractions; restaurant, club and other business owners; and city planners over the years.
For attractions (or businesses) to enhance their role in placemaking, the first step is to look beyond your operation to determine how your attraction complements other businesses in your area. From there, you can work with community stakeholders to highlight not only your attraction, but how it contributes to the overall draw for the neighborhood or city.
WHAT CAN I DO TO STRENGTHEN MY COMMUNITY BONDS?
Tying your brand to your community is about both words and action. The Cardinals earn their status in St. Louis with a robust range of initiatives, ranging from blood drives and ticket giveaways to hospital visits and educational programs. Dollywood maintains strong regional ties throughout Tennessee via a range of programs in its home state, from providing free tickets for terminally ill children and adults to donating thousands of dollars annually to its home county’s food ministry.
Attractions looking to extend or expand community bonds can start by looking for areas where their strengths intersect with neighborhood or regional needs. If an attraction (or business) is food-centric, food banks or other nonprofit efforts to alleviate hunger might be a natural place to start. Museums or science-centered attractions typically gravitate toward educational programs. Regardless of your attraction’s focus, you shouldn’t have to look far to find ways to contribute to your community that are both “on brand” and appreciated.
Another often-overlooked opportunity to build stronger bonds is showing your community pride in your marketing. Something as simple as social media posts highlighting local achievements or milestones can demonstrate that you’re a vibrant, engaged part of the city or neighborhood. And that in turn can build civic pride that spills back over to create preference for your brand.
The vast majority of attractions are tied to their communities at some level. We encourage you to consider your business’ role in placemaking and identify actions you could take to strengthen or expand your role in your neighborhood, city or region. Chances are, your brand will benefit along with the community you call home.