Central Square Red Ribbon Commission Brand Messaging Recommendations

Central Square Red Ribbon Commission Brand Messaging Recommendations Brand/Identity Sub-Committee Co-Chairs: Catherine Carr Kelly, Rozann Kraus, Gus Rancatore 27 September 2011
INTRODUCTION
Your brand is a set of expectations and associations resulting from experience with you as an organization (or in this case, as a destination). It’s the perception you build among your audiences, answering the all-important question: “Why should I spend time and/or money in Central Square?” “Why does Central Square matter?” A compelling brand helps establish a connection, and build a relationship, with those most important to your success.
BACKGROUND
This project was very much an exercise in assembling and reviewing all the data that had already been collected, both as part of the Red Ribbon Commission initiative, and previously. We reviewed a great deal of useful information and supplemented it through primary and secondary research:
Review of all available background information (Central Square Charette, Intercept Survey with 346 respondents, notes from 2006 branding initiative) Focus group with members of the Red Ribbon Commission (approximately 30 participants) and meetings of the Brand/Identity sub-committee
Individual interviews Brief audit of core messaging and communications tactics for peer/aspirational neighborhoods Online survey of all subcommittee members (42 completed surveys)
Overall, there was a great deal of consistency across the data. Clearly, there are the makings of a terrific brand–great proof points, a strong personality, lots of opportunity for differentiation and real emotional connections.
We utilized the survey to help narrow down the messages, with the following result:
Two descriptions resonated with survey participants
–Urban, vibrant and constantly changing (43%) –A true crossroads of culture, business and education (26%)
Six key selling points rose to the top in terms of preference (participants could choose three)
–Culinary…home to a broad set of restaurants with a multitude of cuisines (74%) –Eclectic…Provides a wide variety of events and activities for everyone (64%) –Exciting…Offers an exciting and varied nightlife (40%) –Convenient…A transportation hub, easy place to get your errands done (45%) –Indie…A great place for support of independent businesses (26%)
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–Cultural…Home to some great cultural and educational institutions (26%)
The most popular adjectives to describe Central Square were “diverse” (64%), “urban” (45%), “funky” (45%) “quirky” (26%), and “colorful” (24%)
There was a great deal of consistency in answers to the survey question: “Why spend time in Central Square?”
“It’s the only place where you can within one long block get married, take a dance class, have a great meal, see a play, go grocery shopping, get directions and have it all televised.”
BRAND MESSAGE ARCHITECTURE…WHAT’S THE STORY?
Central Square’s brand perception results from every single contact someone has with the Square. Brand perception is built on four key elements:
A set of relevant, consistent core messages (aka brand message architecture); A visual brand identity (logo, fonts, color palette, imagery) that effectively (and efficiently) communicates the essence of the brand; An agreed-upon set of consistent brand behaviors; An integrated plan to communicate the brand across all touchpoints.
Based on the results of all of the research done to date, the desired brand perception (an internal statement only) for Central Square is:
Central Square is truly the cultural crossroads of Cambridge…it’s an exciting neighborhood, with everything I need to live, work and play.
The brand message architecture comprises a hierarchy of concise, consistent and compelling message points, each of which has its specific role in telling the brand story and building that brand perception. Organizations and destinations (and more important, the individuals who speak on their behalf) need a concise answer to the question “Who are you?”, especially for spoken communications. In branding terms, this is the elevator pitch (so named because it should be short enough to be delivered between floors on an elevator ride).
Based on the review of all the research done to date, and on much discussion, the Brand/Identity Sub- Committee recommends the following elevator pitch:
Central Square is the pulse of Cambridge; an eclectic urban neighborhood where cultures mix, mingle and create. Day or night, Central Square is a vibrant destination for dance, theater, music, and global cuisine.
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The elevator pitch is essentially the tip of the iceberg…the most concise of the statements about the organization or destination. In written or spoken communications, it is backed up by a series of proof points. The proof points should be seen as an inventory of support points…sometimes referred to as “reasons to believe” or “key selling points.” These points are typically representative of the strengths of the brand. When using them, committee members, staff and other champions of the brand should choose the points that will support the argument they are trying to make. Every proof point does not need to be used every time. But used consistently across all communications, these proof points will help build towards the desired perception. In addition, the use of consistent proof points is efficient, brand champions do not need to “make it up” every time they communicate (this holds true for the entire brand messaging architecture).
The Brand/Identity Sub- Committee recommends the following proof points for Central Square: •An authentic city neighborhood that fully embraces its urbanism and the multitude of fascinating
individuals who work, live, shop and play here.
•A business district with a vibrant mix of funky independently-owned shops, start-up businesses and larger well-established corporations, all fueled by the plethora of public art, individual artists, cultural organizations, and the world- class status of our educational institutions
•Home to some of the region’s great cultural and educational institutions, offering a multitude of access points for people of all income levels
•An exciting and varied nightlife, including some of the region’s best live music
•Truly multicultural, reflecting a global society through culinary choices, entertainment and performance venues
•A transportation hub that’s home to many of the city’s most important social service organizations and churches, as well as general city services
•A culinary mecca with a vast array of global shopping and dining choices
A destination like Central Square has a multitude of audiences, each of whom needs and expects something different from Central Square. While it is crucial to maintain a consistent elevator pitch, it is equally important to have a secondary set of messages, versioned by audience. This audience messaging is based on what matters to each of the individual audiences and is used as a “second sentence” to lead into a more specific conversation that addresses the questions, needs and expectations of that particular audience. It is not advertising, brochure or web copy, but a guideline for such copy.
Target audience..DRAFT Audience message..Business owners
Central Square is a hub of innovation and creativity – a fertile environment in which to launch and build a business The city of Cambridge in general, and the Central Square Business
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Association specifically, are extremely supportive of businesses large and small
The MIT community
Central Square is a safe adjacent neighborhood that appeals to students and matches the diversity of the school’s student population The business, cultural and political leaders of Central Square are terrific neighbors, eager to collaborate to advance our shared goals
Tourists (from the local to the international)
Central Square offers a rich mix of culture and cuisine available nowhere else in the Northeast Central Square is safe and accessible Central Square is located between two of the world’s greatest educational institutions and home to some of the world’s most exciting arts and cultural organizations
Those who live and work in Central Square
Central Square is truly a unique destination…you help make it, and keep it, that way
The final piece of the brand message hierarchy is the brand personality. The brand personality conveys the emotional side of the brand. It provides guidance for tone, as well as for choice of imagery. Every single piece of communications, and every single interaction, should support the personality of the brand. The brand personality is typically written as a “brand mantra”, a highly descriptive and aspirational statement. The brand personality statement for Central Square is:
To visit Central Square is have an intensely urban experience, to be immersed in an eclectic and dynamic mix of art, food, shopping, business and entertainment. Day or night, Central Square is alive, buzzing with activity. Like many of the people who pass through it, Central Square is the real deal…authentic, diverse, funky and colorful. There’s no place like it in Cambridge…or in the world.
INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS…HOW WILL WE TELL THE STORY?
Developing the brand message architecture is only the first step in establishing a strong brand. It is equally important to build an integrated marketing communications plan that tells the brand story effectively. The brand messaging stated above should we used in tandem with the Communications Sub- Committees recommendations for marketing Central Square.
Next Steps:
Create a visual brand identity (logo, fonts, color palette, imagery) that effectively (and efficiently) communicates the essence of the brand.
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