“Why does downtown matter? How will a visit add to my life? What makes it special?”

Maybe you’ve heard these questions, maybe not. But they support a myriad of answers based on who you talk to. Branding your downtown or main street helps to standardize the answer to these questions among your customers.

When we think of a brand, we think of companies such as Apple, Walmart, Coca-Cola, and Disney. Some love Disney because of its exceptional customer services and family-friendly entertainment. Others are die-hard Apple users because the products’ simplicity and ease-of-use. Walmart is popular for its convenience, affordability, and its reputation as a ‘one stop shop’. So what do these examples tell us? A brand is more than a logo. The way we view and/or feel about a brand directly correlates to our experiences with it. Branding centers around what your brand means to your customer.

Steven Donaldson of RadiantBrands, gave a presentation at the 2015 National Main Streets Conference in Atlanta, GA entitled, “Creating a Downtown Brand: Connecting with stakeholders and the community.” Throughout, he notes some factors that play into your development of your brand, but for sake of time, let’s highlight just a few.

1. “What is your history?”

This history of your downtown or main street can be and most likely is a very important piece of who you are. History shapes us, so we must embrace and preserve our history. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t create your own own story.

Many people enjoy seeing historic sites and original architecture. A contemporary company housed in one of the historic buildings in your area might be a perfect combination of old and new. The best way to appreciate your organization’s history is by bringing people to see and experience it! The way we perceive history allows us freedom to make choices because of it. So, instead see of allowing your downtown or main street to be seen as old, run-down or dusty, change the narrative by providing new experiences for residents and activities that will convince visitors and tourists that your downtown or main street is a must-see on their trip!

2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Many downtowns and main streets are known for its “culture, arts, ideas, innovation and restaurants.” It’s worth noting, however, that these areas have also been known to struggle with homelessness, cleanliness, and the reputation of being old with no reason to visit.

So, what are your strengths and weaknesses? It may seem obvious, but capitalize and highlight your strengths. Eliminate, or at least disguise, your weaknesses as much as possible. Downtown Provo (and the state of Utah, in general) has been known for its music scene. To get people downtown, event organizers have created a free, monthly concert on Center Street that draws students, families and other communities members alike. How can you use this principle to attract new visitors to your area?

3. What are the characteristics/traits of your customers/visitors?

Who are they? How old are they? Where are they in life? Newly married or setting down roots with young children? Single students? Empty nesters? Professionals? Residents? International tourists? A mix of the above?

When you know who your customers are, you gain a better understand of what they want or need from you and how you can best service them. You can begin to ask yourself questions like: what’s important to them? Experiences or tangible items? Are they price-sensitive? How do they make decisions on what and when to buy? Of course, there are many other questions, but the entire principle of knowing your customer can be summed up into one quote by Peter Drucker: “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

4. What does your brand currently mean to them?

Does your tagline or elevator pitch really represent who you are and what you can do for them? Are you okay with that? Or do you want to change it? One of the biggest ways to create brand impact is through marketing such as “social media, websites, videos, advertising, events, etc.”

With an app like ProsperWalk™, the power is at your fingertips. You have the control to feature different events and businesses to your visitors, when you want to. You can connect social media platforms to create a seamless experience. ProsperWalk™ is simple for both you and the consumer to use.

In conclusion, your brand’s ability to communicate effectively with your customers will provide so much value to your downtown or main street. ProsperWalk™ is the another step in helping you do that and as such, developing your brand into something meaningful to your customers.

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