Establishing a brand for the city is a critical part of building a strong and stable local economy, which is a priority identified in our Strategic Plan. While the work to revitalizing Selkirk’s image has just begun and will take many forms, creating a modern, progressive brand for our community will help grow community pride and help us market ourselves to potential residents, businesses and visitors.
With the positive momentum we are experiencing, now is an opportune time to modernize Selkirk’s brand and become more assertive in marketing the city’s many advantages.
Why do we need a brand?
Many Manitobans know very little about Selkirk other than its association with the steel industry and mental health care facilities. Without a clear message or marketing focus, the City has not been able to effectively communicate all of the positive attributes of our community. Confusion about what we have to offer and the opportunities that exist here deter potential investors. If we are to continue to grow our community and develop a strong local economy, we must build a strong brand to improve our ability to market to potential residents, businesses and visitors.
What is a “brand”?
First it’s important to know that a brand is more than just a logo. While a logo, colour scheme and creative design may provide a unique representation of a brand – it’s just the surface! Brands go much deeper than the logo.
A “brand” is what people think and feel when they hear or see the name of a product or service. For example, when you hear the name McDonald’s or you see their logo (the “golden arches”) you have an almost immediate reaction. The thoughts and emotions you attribute to McDonalds is what we typically refer to as a “brand”. For Selkirk, our brand is the sum total of all of the things that the public knows, both factual and emotional, about our community.
Brands are established in people’s minds in a few ways:
- Direct, personal experience
- Vicarious experience (ie: word of mouth); or
- Marketing and other media messages that shape their thoughts about the brand.
How did Selkirk develop its brand?
Building a new brand is, if you do it right, complex and requires expert skills and tools. The City of Selkirk engaged Ion Design to help us through this process. Ion is a marketing firm which specializes in place-branding and has helped communities all over Canada develop strong brands.
First we needed to understand what our current brand is; what our stakeholders thought and felt about us already. We did significant research to get a good understanding of what residents and other Manitobans think about Selkirk. First we did a phone survey of Selkirk residents. Then we participated in the Probe Research omnibus survey that’s conducted across Manitoba. Then we brought together business and community leaders in a series of brand-discovery workshops. Under Ion’s guidance, these stakeholders helped us expand on survey data and truly got to the heart of what we want our city brand to be. See the video below to learn more about how our new brand was developed.
What about the city crest?
The City of Selkirk’s heraldic symbol, commonly referred to as the “city crest” or the “city’s coat of arms” is an important symbol for the city. It was designed in 1982 as part of the City’s centennial celebrations and represents Selkirk’s proud history. In recent years the City has used the crest as its logo. With our new brand, this will no longer be the case. While you will see the crest less often – it will not be going away. The crest will continue to be used as the City’s official seal and will remain a central part of the City’s official flag. The crest will continue to be used to represent the city governance and will appear on very formal or ceremonial documents and as the symbol for Mayor and Council. This practice is similar to the practice followed by many major Canadian cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal.
What is the City going to do with the brand?
The City will apply the logo and brand styling to signage, documents, stationary, our website and advertisements. We will thoughtfully and cost-effectively use these branded images. More importantly, the City is working hard to bring improvements to how we manage the city and deliver services to citizens. We want to create the “brand experiences” that will help us shape how residents and other stakeholders think and feel about Selkirk. To truly revitalize the city’s image – we have to keep our “brand promise”. We have to build a vibrant regional hub for commerce, culture and recreation and provide the best opportunities an urban centre can offer.
What are the brand’s key messages?
A big benefit of the new brand is that it has helped us clarify and focus on the key messages that we want to share about our City. While we have many positive things to say – it’s critical to distill these messages into a few powerful statements that will drive the community pride and economic growth we desire.
These key messages don’t just reflect what we offer today, they also represent our aspirations as a community. They speak to who we are today and who we will be in the future.
After careful community consultation, these are our key messages:
- Selkirk is the economic hub of the Interlake region of Manitoba, for industry, services and technology.
- Selkirk is a community of caring neighbours who enjoy access to urban amenities with a hometown spirit.
- Selkirk is a thriving centre for state-of-the-art health care, featuring a major new hospital and mental health facilities, and extensive community support services.
- Selkirk is a destination for cultural tourism – featuring high-quality festivals, facilities and annual celebrations.
- Recreation fills every season in Selkirk, from boating, fishing, soccer and cycling to hockey, snowmobiling and many other indoor and outdoor activities.
What is the “brand essence”?
A brand essence is really the distillation of a brand into a few words or key ideas. Selkirk’s brand essence takes the form of five key words:
These key words represent what we mean when we say “City of Selkirk”. They reflect our best characteristics and are the words we want people to instinctively use when they try to describe our community.
To learn more about our new brand by reading our City of Selkirk Brand Style Guide.