To bring outside objectivity to the project, Cumberland Valley has partnered with North Star Destination Strategies. North Star has helped develop community brands for more than 100 cities in 25 states nationwide.
"Our committee recommended North Star to the Cumberland Area Economic Development Board for its expertise in community branding," said Leslie Folmer Clinton, Associate Vice President for External Relations and Director of the Luhrs Performing Arts Center at Shippensburg University. "North Star will use a collaborative process so that businesses and organizations in Cumberland County will support and promote our new tourism brand. We think North Star will be a winner in helping to grow travel and tourism in the Cumberland Valley," added Folmer Clinton.
"Your brand is what people say about you when you're not around. In other words, your reputation." explains Don McEachern, CEO of North Star. "People have chosen to move to a city - without ever visiting - based wholly on the word-of-mouth about it. Branding is what you do to change or refine that message. We are delighted to be working with the Cumberland Valley in this capacity."
The integrated process includes research, strategy and creative development. The first stage is research and comprises about 80% of the work. "Here we determine the state of your existing brand," says McEachern. More than 15 pieces of qualitative and quantitative research will paint a thorough picture of how the Cumberland Valley area is thought of today. This research includes an assessment of the environment; inquiry origin, visitor origin, demographics and psychographics of residents and visitors; perceptions of visitors, residents and stakeholders; and a review of current communications and the competition.
Using that research, North Star will develop a brand strategy that is relevant to Cumberland Valley's current situation but also differentiates the area to consumers. "The research will not only tell our existing story, it will yield insights that point us in the direction of our desired future story," says Valerie Copenhaver, Marketing Manager of Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau.
The final stage of the project will involve the development of a brand identity guide for the Cumberland Valley. This includes, but is not limited to, ideas for communications, signage, special events, community outreach, online initiatives and merchandising.
"We have a lot to be proud of here," concludes Copenhaver. "We just need to communicate that to everyone else through a cutting-edge, effective brand strategy that our communities support."
If you are interested in learning more about Cumberland Valley's branding initiative, please contact Valerie Copenhaver at the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau at 1.717.240.7193.
The Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau is the official tourism promotion agency for Cumberland County. For more information visit us online at www.visitcumberlandvalley.com.