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  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Kevin Hinson has been photographing Nashua scenes as representatives from North Star Destination Strategies approach business leaders, city stakeholders and residents, getting impressions and understanding the Nashua reputation. The company is teaming up with the Nashua Chamber of Commerce to solidify Nashua's brand.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Representatives from North Star Destination Strategies, including, from left, Kevin Hinson, Adam Winstead and Jennifer Williams are approaching business leaders, city stakeholders, and residents for the next couple months, getting impressions and understanding the Nashua reputation. The company is teaming up with the Nashua Chamber of Commerce to solidify Nashua's brand.
  • Staff photo by BOB HAMMERSTROM


    Representatives from North Star Destination Strategies, including, from left, Kevin Hinson, Jennifer Williams and Adam Winstead are approaching business leaders, city stakeholders, and residents for the next couple months, getting impressions and understanding the Nashua reputation. The company is teaming up with the Nashua Chamber of Commerce to solidify Nashua's brand.




Thursday, May 10, 2012

City, Chamber look to establish Nashua’s brand

If Nashua were a celebrity, who would it be?

Questions like these – some lighthearted, others serious – will be central to the research going into the city’s joint venture with the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce and a Nashville, Tenn.-based community branding firm hired to fine-tune Nashua’s brand.

The agency, North Star Destination Strategies, has been hired out by the city and the Chamber, as part of a $105,000, two-phase effort that aims to draw attention and activity to Nashua from the outside, city Economic Development director Tom Galligani said.

“We go back to the Money Magazine, ‘The Best Place to Live’ list,” Galligani said. “Twice we were named the best place to live. … We’re working on 15 years ago. It’s a matter of trying to figure out how we can project a positive image for Nashua and how we can project the great things that are happening here.”

On Tuesday, Williams, North Star’s project manager for the branding collaborative, educated aldermen and residents on what a brand is, and why Nashua needs one.

“Your brand is what they say about you when you’re not around,” Jennifer Williams said. “It’s your reputation. … It’s that orchestration of all that you do to affect what they’re saying.”

North Star will be working with the city, the chamber, and a Branding Advisory Committee over the next couple of months to research what makes Nashua, well, Nashua. Representatives visited the Gate City for the first time this week, Galligani said.

“The conversations for this started a couple years ago with Tom and I both realizing that in today’s global economy, communities need to be even more competitive than ever,” Chamber President Chris Williams said, “And in that context, it’s important for the city and its local business community to be on the same page with each other when it comes to promoting the best assets that the Nashua area has to offer for companies considering relocation and expansion to New England.”

Since Monday, North Star has toured Nashua, including city staples such as Holman Stadium, the Nashua Airport, Nashua Community College, the Millyard, Nashua Technology Park and 1 Indian Head Plaza, Chris Williams said.

They also have spoken with community stakeholders and conducted undercover interviews with residents to find out what people say about Nashua from the inside.

In the coming weeks, North Star will conduct a “vision” survey with individuals invested in the community, either through businesses or local organizations, and another survey open to Nashua residents.

A large part of North Star’s work will be done from their Tennessee headquarters, Chris Williams said, with a few more visits scheduled in Nashua as they continue their research.

“We really try to get everyone’s involvement, and that’s really key in this initiative,” Jennifer Williams said Tuesday. “We want to make sure everyone does have a voice in this process.”

North Star also will study outsiders’ perspectives on Nashua, from prospective residents and business owners, and the way Nashua stacks up to competition from similar cities around the region.

“We know what we think,” Chris Williams said. “We need to know what our competitors think.”

Some of the research will investigate which visitors come to Nashua, what they are like and where they are spending money, by looking at retail records, Jennifer Williams said.

North Star also plans on conducting interviews with real estate developers and state and regional economic developers, Jennifer Williams said, and to look at Nashua’s online presence to see what sentiments are expressed about the city.

Their findings will determine Nashua’s brand platform statement, explaining what differentiates Nashua from similar communities, and the benefits that the city holds for prospective residents, businesses and stakeholders.

North Star applies its imagination to the process, Jennifer Williams said, delivering creative concepts for how the platform can be fulfilled, including a narrative that communicates the essence and personality of Nashua.

A logo and slogan will be developed for Nashua, plus a color palette, stationary, and business cards, along with conceptual designs for the city to use when it creates its own brand tools through web design, apps and other creative pieces.

The city’s brand can be brought to life when the logo is used to identify the city’s infrastructure and services, inserted on brand banners or flags, and for utilitarian purposes such as market bags and uniforms, Jennifer Williams said.

“Ultimately the brand should pull everyone together, working in the same direction,” Jennifer Williams said. “That’s really the goal, is that consistency throughout the community, so that everyone who interfaces with Nashua, no matter who they’re talking to or what organization, is having a similar experience.”

In the past, North Star has worked with communities including Kosciusko County, Ind., Tehachapi, Calif. and Lima Allen County, Ohio, Jennifer Williams said.

Area communities such as Londonderry, Manchester and Lowell, Mass., have undertaken similar branding initiatives in recent years, Galligani said.

By August, North Star hopes to have Nashua’s research completed and presented to the Brand Advisory Committee, Williams said.

The committee includes 15 community members, with a cross section of public and private sector representatives, Chris Williams said, selected by the mayor’s office and the chamber respectively.

North Star’s creative phase will take over following the initial report and a final report will be delivered in October.

The final report triggers Phase II in the branding process, Galligani said, which will build newly branded websites for the city and the Chamber, plus other initiatives to implement Nashua’s brand. Local marketing and creative agency Mesh Interactive has been hired for Phase II.

Phase I will cost roughly $75,000 to complete, Galligani said, with Phase II coming at $30,000. The final pricetag will be split 50/50 between the city and the chamber.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).