MANCHESTER, NH – The city’s Economic Development Office plans a busy week launching the first phase of the new community-wide identity and branding initiative. MEDO officials are hoping community members will get busy, too, and help create a way to tell Manchester’s story.
North Star Place Branding, which signed a contract with the Economic Development Office in March, is spearheading the effort, which has started this week with the research phase. The Jacksonville, Florida-based company is being paid $140,000, and the total budget for the three-to-five year project is $1.5 million, which includes infrastructure, signs, ads and more.
The city announced the branding and marketing initiative in November, when it made a request for proposals. North Star also has partnered on the Monadnock Region’s recent branding effort.
“This effort will help our city stand out in the marketplace and grow our image and appeal,” Jodie Nazaka, MEDO director, told InkLink on Monday. “The goal is to increase interest and investment in our community from residents, entrepreneurs, companies, and visitors.”
The North Star team’s visit began today, and they’ll be here through Thursday to get phase one started, which includes conducting research inside and outside the community to uncover perceptions, attitudes, and what’s unique about Manchester, Nazaka said. The consultants will tour the city, hold one-on-one interviews with business owners, residents and elected officials and host focus groups.
An informational presentation for the community will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday May 24 at the Rex Theater, 24 Amherst St. It is free and open to the public.
“City residents can be part of the effort to help define how Manchester will portray itself to the outside world” at the presentation, Nazaka said.
Residents and other members of the community can also become “Manchester Ambassadors,” who are kept updated on the project and given the tools to spread the word. A “Distinctly Manchester” website explains the process and how to get involved.
North Star wants to hear the stories of Manchester residents and business owners to help create the brand.
“People have opinions about Manchester. We want to hear them all. And the only way to do that is to gather lots of data from inside and outside the community,” the website says. The data that the company gathers will become the primary driver for the final result. The company said that it seeks “a statistically significant body of quantitative and qualitative research” to ensure that the brand represents the perceptions of both residents and those outside the city.
Story sharing can be about starting a business or family in the city, what a person’s church or neighborhood means to them, where they go to have fun, a favorite memory – anything that helps paint a picture of what Manchester is. North Star asks that people post stories, as well as photos, on Instagram with the tag #DistinctlyManchester.
The best pictures may be used in a social media campaign associated with the roll-out of the new brand, the company said.
Once the research phase is done, the data gathered will be “transformed into compelling creative tools that tell the Manchester story in ways that visitors, businesses, and residents can understand.” The final phase is integration of the brand into marketing and communications as well as “into the fabric of our community and our daily lives,” North Star said.
The department introduced Wednesday’s event in its MEDO Minute feature Friday in Manchester InkLink.
The branding effort is the latest initiative, and most ambitious so far of the revived Economic Development Office, which came back to life in February 2022 after nearly three years of inactivity. MEDO acts as a liaison between city government and local businesses, as well as supporting economic development by working with the Manchester Development Corp., updating the city’s 79E program (Community Revitalization and Tax Relief), helping develop the city’s first tax increment financing district and more.