Stakeholder meeting & focus group

August 18, 2017

Ryan Short, the founder of CivicBrand, spoke to a group of area stakeholders 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 groups that attended both meetings.

The presentation focused on two main points – the understanding of a brand platform and the importance of stakeholder involvement. Following the presentation the audience participated in a series of interactive surveys.


What is a brand platform?

Community stakeholders have many different goals and often some of these goals are conflicting. This is a good thing because a vibrant community depends on a wide range of diverse viewpoints. However, conflicting goals can also lead to a lot of noise and mix messages being communicated to potential tourists, residents and businesses. What’s the solution? The development of a brand platform that can support and enhance these many different goals.

The company Toyota was illustrated as an example of how a brand platform can support many different goals. Toyota sells a range of vehicle types that each have very different audiences with very different goals. They sell rugged pick-up trucks that need to appeal to a specific audience as tough and adventurous. Along with pick-up trucks, Toyota sells minivans that must be seen as safe and family friendly.

Instead of running each division, like pick-up trucks and minivans, as completely separate brands, they have developed a brand platform. Each of the vehicle types benefit from the supporting Toyota brand platform. This is because, while each vehicle has completely different goals, they all benefit from the shared brand platform that Toyota has created. A platform that emphasizes quality and dependability.

When done correctly community branding can do the same. Different aspects of a city — Tourism | Business | Community — play a similar role as the diverse vehicles. Although different, they can each benefit from a shared brand platform that enhances their individual efforts while giving them the flexibility to appeal to their specific audiences and goals.

You are essential to the process

The second main point is that individual stakeholders are essential to the branding process. It’s your story, your community and your goals. CivicBrand is here to find, harness that, and then give you the tools to communicate, as individuals and collectively, in a more powerful way. will serve as an ongoing resource for everything happening within the project, as well as a two-way communication tool as new survey questions are continually posted. Stakeholders are encouraged to signup for notifications on the website so they are the first to know about updates, new questions and survey results.

Following the presentation and a short Q&A, the audience participated in a handful of interactive surveys. Each stakeholder completed a persona worksheet where they answered the following 3 questions for summer visitors, off-season visitors, young residents, retired residents and businesses / entrepreneurs.

  1. What the most attractive thing about Park Rapids to that audience?
  2. What is a hurdle that may keep that audience from Park Rapids?
  3. What is an ah-ha moment that if realized would help that audience overcome that hurdle?

Stakeholders were also given an index card where they wrote down what they perceived as Park Rapids’ best kept secret.

The last activity included each stakeholder using colored sticky dots to vote on a handful of topics as shown below.

The CivicBrand team will be analyzing this data, input from various meetings with the Branding Steering Committee, and the data collected from the University of Minnesota Center for Small Towns.