The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 16, 2013

A unified message

City groups working for economic development in Enid, the area benefit from pooling their resources toward marketing the region

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — From large signs atop Convention Hall and the Enid city administration building to T-shirts, stationery and souvenirs, Enid’s new logo has become an easily recognizable symbol of the community.

But the new logos are only a small, visible portion of a more comprehensive campaign to change perceptions about Enid, among current residents, prospective visitors and new businesses.

The effort to “rebrand Enid” began in 2011 as a way to unify marketing efforts coming from the city’s main promotional and economic development entities.

Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance, said the need to create a cohesive brand for the city became evident when ERDA launched a new ad in a regional magazine.

“We were really excited about our ad, and when we got the publication in we saw that the chamber also had an ad in there, and Main Street had an ad, and the convention and visitors bureau had an ad, and they were all different, and they were all small ads,” Kisling said.

He said it was apparent all of the city’s entities working for economic development could benefit from pooling their resources and creating a unified message.

“We knew if we were going to all be publishing ads out there, we needed a consistent message.”

The effort to create that cohesive message resulted in formation of Enid First, comprised of representatives from ERDA, Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau, Main Street Enid and the city of Enid.

Enid assistant city manager Joan Riley said the process of “Branding Enid” took more than a year of research, focus groups, design and marketing.

“The first thing that came up was that we needed a solid, unified brand,” Riley said.

Kevin Friesen of Friesen Design was brought in to help the Enid First committee come up with a unified message, and then boil that message down into a recognizable symbol for the city.

Friesen said the process of creating a new brand, and a logo to symbolize it, was focused both on the past and the future.

“We wanted to go back and look at the history ... and see what we could do to tie this to the past, and yet look to the future,” Friesen said. “We didn’t want to just be tied to the past. We wanted to be looking forward to the future.”

Friesen said the elements of the logo symbolize both Enid’s past and its future.

Among other elements, a capital ‘E’ and bold letters in the city’s name “communicate strength and confidence,” while the ‘i’ in Enid doubles as a landrun stake with a flag flying off the logo, symbolizing Enid’s pioneer past and its movement into the future.

The letters rise from the ground and move upward to a blue sky and billowing clouds.

“Enid basically was formed overnight, so that idea of rising up from the prairie was part of our thinking,” Friesen said. “We’re forward thinking, and the idea of being boundless, and having energy ... all of those things were integrated into it.”

Friesen said the logo serves as an important visual symbol of Enid’s personality, but he said the branding effort goes far beyond the logo.

“The logo is not the brand,” Friesen said. “The logo is a visual identifier of what we want to communicate to people about our community. Everything we do has to be advancing the brand, but the logo is the most visual and most simple visualization of the brand.”

Enid City Manager Eric Benson said many people just associate Branding Enid with the new logo. He said the campaign really is about creating a more positive view of Enid’s current vitality and its future potential.

“It’s more than an image, and it’s more than tag line,” Benson said. “It’s a whole new personality for the city.”

Benson said the branding campaign aims to change visual and verbal messages about the city.

“It’s about a change of attitude,” Riley added. “All the way around, it’s a change of what you want people to think of when they think of Enid, and that’s a city that’s growing, thriving and maturing.”

Main Street Enid Director Kelly Tompkins said Enid’s new brand can be summed up in this sentence: “Enid is a community overflowing with boundless opportunities, building on an original heritage and pulsing with a vibrant quality of life.”

She said the new branding effort has “brought about unity, with us all promoting Enid as a community that is boundless, original, and vibrant.”

Enid Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Marcy Jarrett said the new brand allows different city organizations to promote Enid to different audiences, but with a cohesive message about the city.

“Each of our five different entities have the same goal — bring more people to Enid,” Jarrett said. “Each of us have a different target audience, but now, with this unified brand, if someone sees an ad targeting economic development, they see the same branding used in a tourism campaign. Each audience sees the same Enid, and that’s what we needed.”

Jarrett said the unified campaign has effectively extended the marketing budget for all five of the Enid First entities because of “crossover” between their marketing campaigns.

“It shows we’re all stronger working together, and we’re all putting Enid first,” Jarrett said.

Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jon Blankenship said the new brand, and its message about Enid’s future, is being embraced by the community.

“In general people have been very enthusiastic about the new brand,” Blankenship said. “It’s a positive morale thing for the community, and it’s great to see all our organizations working together to move Enid forward.”

Blankenship said businesses, the public and the Enid First members “have run with the ‘boundless, vibrant, original’ concept” in the new brand.

“It helps convey pride in our community, pride in our heritage and pride in the fact Enid is progressive, and it conveys a message of what Enid aspires to be,” Blankenship said.

Broadcasting that message, inside and out of city limits, is an evolving process.

Kisling the next step in the process is creating video and digital marketing messages to “broadcast the brand.”

He said all of the Enid First entities need more video clips that could be used to market Enid online and to prospective visitors, residents and businesses.

ERDA currently is working on several video projects to produce promotional clips that can be used for different purposes, from workforce recruitment to tourism promotions.

But, regardless of the medium, Kisling said the campaign will continue to advance Enid’s bright future, rooted in a proud past.

“Our older representations focused more on our past than on our future,” Kisling said. “We don’t want to lose connection with that past, but we want to focus on where we’re headed as a community. We’re going to a new level, and this is a new representation of who we are.”