Brand identity brainstorming for northern Nevada economy

The year-long effort to develop a strategy for the recruitment of new industry into northern Nevada is entering another phase the development of a unified brand identity for the region's economy.

A consulting firm hired by the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada has undertaken several focus groups in the region as part of the brand-development effort.

And executives of EDAWN and representatives of the consulting firm, Angelou-Economics, have begun talking seriously about the attributes of a brand identity for the region's economic development work.

At the bare minimum, the brand needs to create a clear geographic identity for audiences outside the region, said Ben Loftsgaarden, a project manager with AngelouEconomics.

He noted, for instance, that various groups refer to the region as "northern Nevada" or "western Nevada" or the "Reno-Tahoe area" all of which can be confusing to an outsider looking for a site for a new plant or office.

Residents of the six counties in northwestern Nevada have a clear understanding of the boundaries of the region, Loftsgaarden said, even though they also struggle to put it into words.

Along with a clear geographic identity, Loftsgaarden said AngelouEconomics encourages economic development executives and the entire community, for that matter to decide what attributes they want to emphasize in the brand identity.

So far, he said, participants in focus groups have said they want the brand to be polished and forward-looking although it may give a nod to the region's heritage.

Executives of EDAWN have talked at times of rolling out the new brand at an economic summit scheduled Nov. 29, an event to unveil the results of the year-long effort by Angelou-Economics and EDAWN to establish priorities for economic development in the region.

But the need to make sure that the brand-development work is done well may mean it's not ready to be unwrapped by the time of the summit.

Julie Ardito, director of public relations for EDAWN, said a number of ideas, all of them purely conceptual this point, have been kicked around by the economic development agency's staff and its consultants.

The key element in all of them, she said, is the need to create a brand that works for the entire region.

"This is not an EDAWN brand," she said. "This is a regional brand."

Among the groups involved in the conversation so far is the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority, which has devoted substantial effort in the past four years to development of its brand "America's Adventure Place."

Because of the importance of tourism to the region's economy not to mention its importance to the area's sense of itself both Ardito and Loftsgaarden said the economic-development brand needs to mesh with the tourism branding campaign.

It's important, too, that the new brand win grassroots acceptance, Loftsgaarden said.

When it's completed, the new brand will drive the development of logos, advertising slogans, Web sites and other marketing materials.


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