SIDNEY — For many years Sidney and Shelby County have been defined as a great place to work. Data pertaining to the numbers employed in the area certainly support the premise. What could profoundly benefit the greater Sidney area is an improved perception about the quality of life enjoyed here.
“Sidney and Shelby County have a wonderful story to tell,” so concluded a group of community and business leaders who came together late last year to envision opportunities for improvement within the local region. Shortly thereafter an initiative was undertaken to craft a new brand story, logo, and messaging for Sidney, that if used effectively, could influence public perception not only within its city limits, but across Shelby County and beyond its boundaries as well.
With a focus on Sidney, it was believed that all in the county would benefit. Local organizations, merchants, service companies, and employers would realize the benefit of increased population. County businesses would benefit in that the success of their recruiting efforts would be enhanced when presenting Sidney and Shelby County as an attractive place to live. Area villages would benefit from an enhanced perception of Sidney as its county seat.
A volunteer committee comprised of local experts in marketing and branding accompanied by local stakeholders in economic development was assembled and quickly embraced the understanding that to be true to their community, its new brand had to be authentic. Through a carefully orchestrated community and destination branding initiative, committee members endeavored to create a “sense of place” for Sidney and Shelby County where people choose to live here because the area offers many of the social, recreation, and entertainment options they desire.
Fahlgren Mortine, a Columbus, Ohio, based agency with placebranding expertise, was retained to help. To identify what makes Sidney special, local interviews with a variety of community members were conducted. Also interviewed were a number of area HR managers to gain their perceptions of Sidney as an option for relocation when they hire from outside the area. “These folks are our brand ambassadors,” said Jeff Raible, president of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce. “We need to give them a compelling story to tell if we want their support in promoting our community as an attractive place to call home.”
To gain even greater insight into the perceptions of Sidney and the community at large, the branding committee itself participated in a five hour branding workshop facilitated by Fahlgren Mortine. During this intense session, much discussion took place to aid the agency in further identifying the key elements essential for inclusion in Sidney’s new brand.
Some of what was learned in the above fact finding exercises is as follows. Sidney is best characterized by its history of wholesome pursuits and classic moments. The people of Sidney are thoughtful in their decisions and deliberate in their actions. They push, they challenge, they support and care but ultimately, they stand together. The community of Sidney is optimistic and believe in a better, more productive world. Their attitude is the energy that propels the community forward.
The analysis goes on to conclude that Sidney possesses a modern charm, a quaint allure combined with several new and fresh shopping and dining options with more on the way. Sidney is blessed with an incredible corporate and non-profit base to strengthen its social support systems. Sidney’s “maker mentality” leverages its heritage in manufacturing and innovation making it a proving ground for the American dream.
The people of Sidney are hard-working, humble, determined, and generous. Sidney is a small town with big potential; a community enabled to grow economically where businesses big and small are empowered to connect and grow.
With these powerful themes in mind, a “brand story” was crafted for Sidney and reads as follows:
SIDNEY IS A SPIRIT
Perhaps Sidney is best defined by what you won’t find here.
That’s not to say we’ve got nothing going on. Far from it. We’re up early. On the job. In the field. On the floor. At the office. In the store.
And we’re working late. In our churches. At the food pantry. On the ballfield. In the barn. And at city hall.
If you’re looking for “easy street,” you won’t find it here.
We are a hands-on community. Actors of kindness. Doers. Leaders looking to mentor the next generation forward. This is a place where a thumbprint can lead to footprints. And footprints lead to change.
If you’re looking for a laurel to rest on – you won’t find it here.
We are moving. Building. Creating. Evolving. And we’re driving toward a truth. Something we can all share. Work toward. Defend.
It’s part memory. Of what they’ve built. Of what we’ve built. Of what we’ve stood for. Struggled for and built together.
But it’s also a vision of the community we want to be. A future full of energy, optimism and ownership. A commitment to growth, opportunity and development.
Sidney is both a community and a community in the making. Created by the crafters, makers, artists, farmers and framers of our city. Who we are today isn’t who we will be. Nor a limit on what we can be.
Because Sidney is a spirit you won’t find anywhere else.
The final phase in the development of a new community and destination brand for Sidney is to formulate a brand rollout strategy with implementation shortly thereafter and ongoing after that. It is anticipated that a number of marketing channels will be utilized in this messaging campaign to include print, digital, social media, and outdoor advertising to tell the community story and validate Sidney and Shelby County as an ideal place to live, work, and visit.