CivicBrand Trip #1

August 21, 2017

The purpose behind CivicBrand’s first trip to Park Rapids Lakes Area was to meet with town stakeholders and local business owners and identify what makes Park Rapids unique through a process we call Brand Camp. Brand Camp is our way of identifying the individual goals for different stakeholders, potential hurdles in the success of those goals and key features that make Park Rapids Lakes Area a special place to visit, live and work.

Identifying these key elements will help us discover the underlying brand that we believe is already present within the Park Rapids Lakes Area.

We held two meetings at Northwoods Bank bringing in roughly 70 key stakeholders. The focus of the meetings was to explain what makes a Community Brand Platform different from just a logo/tagline and to listen to and engage individuals.

With a packed schedule, we were able to visit multiple resorts, Main Street businesses, Itasca State Park, numerous lakes and museums, bike Heartland Trail, attend Water Wars on Main Street and 2nd Street Stage, and much more.

The team left with a more thorough understanding of the area and a new love and respect for the people that make this place so special.

We kicked off Brand Camp with an in-depth meeting with the Branding Steering Committee. In this meeting we dove into the goals of the branding project and began the process of developing S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T goals ensure that goals we set are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and are given a set Timeline. Along with establishing goals, we dove into the development of audience personas. Audience personas are the different groups in which the Park Rapids Lakes Area brand needs to communicate to. These personas include summer visitors, off-season visitors, current and potential residents, as well as current and potential businesses. The meeting was highly productive and set the foundation for the entire project.

Our first few days downtown did not disappoint! We enjoyed an amazing dinner at The Good Life Cafe our first night in Park Rapids and over the next few days made our way to multiple businesses along Main Street. Filling up bags of candy, tasting chocolate covered pretzels, exploring the historic Park Theater, shopping, grabbing a bite to eat, and venturing into the Nemeth Art Center are just a few among the list of our downtown stops.

Driving through Itasca State Park gave us a chance to really experience the beauty of the area. We took time to explore the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center, splashed around in the Headwaters of The Mississippi River, stopped by the Itasca Indian Cemetery, interviewed visitors and took in the beauty that surrounded us.

We toured three very different, very beautiful lakeside resorts in the area. The three resorts we were able to visit are:

Exploring these resorts and talking to owners gave us many insights. We learned how many families book year after year establishing traditions within the area, how expanding the off-season is mutually beneficial for both visitors and businesses and the different ways people like to “escape” to Park Rapids.

Two Stakeholder meetings were held at Northwoods Bank Thursday, August 10th and Friday, August 11th. Individuals associated with the Government, Sports Clubs, Lodging, Shopping/Retail, Arts and various Industries were among the group that attended both meetings. Here we were able to explain what a “brand” really is, how it is different than just a simple logo/tagline and engaged individuals with interactive activities and free response surveys. More about those two kick-off meetings can be found HERE.

Our 5AM fishing experience on Mantrap Lake gave us a peek into the serenity that many visitors come for and locals love. Our fishing guide, Jason Durham, showed some of us our first Northern Pike and gave us insight into what draws visitors to the area.

Getting to witness Water Wars was easily one of the highlights of our trip. The whole community gathered to watch teams battle it out with gigantic firehoses as their only tools. We watched kids play in the puddles forming on Main Street, teens cheer for their friends participating and many families gather for this annual event. As Water Wars came to an end, the night continued with 2nd Street Stage. Returning band, 4onthefloor, kicked off the night and we had a great time seeing the community let loose and enjoy the night.

Each year in August, Legends and Logging brings the community together. Artists, chainsaw sculptors, historical camps, music, food and Lumberjacks are all present at this Summer festival and we got the chance to be a part of it. We watched kids race to collect candy from the Candy Cannon and Master Chainsaw Sculptures create masterpieces!

Just seconds from the front door of our cabins at Riverside Point, we could see beautiful docks and clear water. We had the chance to explore many of the clean, pristine lakes that give Park Rapids Lakes Area the reputation it has. Almost every individual we talked to had something special to say about the lakes in the area and we couldn’t agree more.

Before hoping on a plane back to Texas we ventured around the Main Street car show and took a look at all of the vintage vehicles. We stopped by the Farmers Market, picked up a Maple Latte and concluded it might be one of the best we’ve had.

Thank you for partnering with us!