Wednesday, January 14, 2015


When we talk about Branding Arlington, are we talking about the sound of enraged mooing and the smell of burnt leather? Well, yes and no.

That is where the term originates from: In a world of cows how does one tell from herd to herd? From town to town? Product to service?

David A. Aaker, in his book Managing Brand Equity states, “A brand is a distinguishing name and/or symbol (such as logo, trademark, or package design) intended to identify … goods or services … and to differentiate those goods or services from those of competitors.”

It’s a good place to start, breaking that down, a brand is Arlington’s unique story that quickly sets it apart from the many other rural communities in eastern South Dakota.

It may, or may not, seem obvious to you why Arlington is a great place but we need a way to communicate that message to the target audiences that we discussed last week.

The average person interacts with 500-1000 brand or marketing messages each day. From billboards to TV commercials to the print ads on this page you are going to encounter hundreds of messages vying for your attention in the next hours.

How much do you retain? Each marketing messages get between 3-7 seconds of your attention! That’s it, enough time to say, “Hi, my name is….”

How do we develop a brand that communicates how great Arlington is – and how much greater the Arlington area is than other areas around us?

Greg Stine of Polaris, Inc. Branding Solutions offers us nine straight-forward principles:
1. Keep It Simple: one big idea is best. A good example of this is Bookings’ brand, “Bring Your Dreams.”
2. Mass-produced word of mouth (PR) builds brands. Arlington’s commercial culture needs to breed customer loyalty – in other words the fish stories told after a day at the lake should involve Arlington.
3. Focused brands are more powerful than diffused brands. Have one theme; tell the story well and often.
4. Somehow, some way, you have to be different. This one is the toughest…what makes Arlington different?
5. The first brand in a category has a huge advantage. Nothing we can do about this, but all the other small towns are in the same boat.
6. Avoid sub-brands at all cost. This means the City Council, The Development Corp., The School , The Chamber, The People, everyone buys into and sells the theme. Another way to say this is we speak with one voice.
7. Quality is important, but not as important as the perception of quality. We may not be lakefront, but we have twenty lakes within twenty minutes.
8. Be consistent and patient. Building a strong brand takes time.

9. Put your brand definition in writing, otherwise you'll get off course. This last part I need your help with. 

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