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Brand - an identifying mark or label; to mark with a brand, to put a stigma on.
That is Webster's definition of brand. Taking that one step further, branding is touting what you have that nobody else can deliver, that unique thing that we have and do the best. So, if I mention that we have Snoqualmie Falls, one of the highest and largest falls in the country, and we have the Northwest Railway Museum, one of only three historic railroads in the Pacific Northwest, can I claim the $65,000 prize?
The point may be tongue in cheek but the realities of spending that amount of money on a consultant without first looking to the community for guidance is a fruitless adventure at best. A consultant may be in the best interest of Snoqualmie with regards to branding and marketing, but let's step back from the tax trough for a second and think about the approach.
Roger Brooks, whom the city is contemplating using as a branding and marketing consultant, has what he calls the "10 Immutable Rules of Branding." Each rule is common sense with details to success. Rule No. 7 clearly states, "Branding is a team sport." Basically, he goes on to say that you have to get everyone to buy into the idea that branding and marketing are necessary.
A vision of what we want for the community needs to be discussed with community stakeholders involved. To my knowledge, we haven't made this step and we don't need a consultant to get this started.
On this point, I would urge the Snoqualmie City Council to call a community forum to talk about branding and marketing our community. Yes, we agree it needs to be done, but let's get everyone thinking about the idea before we engage the services of an expensive consultant.
Secondly, we can not separate Snoqualmie, North Bend and Fall City from the equation. All roads lead to the Valley through one of these towns and to involve all three communities in the process is imperative to success. Some council members may argue that North Bend and Fall City aren't able to pony up the dollars to take on this project. That may be true, but you will be doing Snoqualmie a disservice if you don't consider the entire Upper Valley for branding and marketing.
Finally, there needs to be collaboration with the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber, through limited funding resources and a volunteer base, has been preaching branding and marketing for years. To throw a consultant at this without first gathering chamber members and downtown businesses together to talk about a direction, is putting the cart before the horse. This process can't just be a pet project of council members, we all have to buy in to hope any chance of success.
We have all the elements to show the state, region and even the country that we are a great place to live, visit and do business. We have things that most communities can only dream about, and all just 45 minutes from a major metropolis.
So, postpone the decision on the consultant, gather community stakeholders and hold a forum on what it is we want to do. If it is to develop a branding and marketing campaign, then think how much easier it will be with an entire community behind the idea.