When we think of branding, logos and taglines are often the first things that come to mind. But branding is much more than a simple logo. Branding is a way to put your values as a heritage place on display. Branding can be a part of how your audience connects with you. And, so everything you say as an organization, everything you put out there, becomes a part of your brand. And, the clearer your brand is, the more compelling your marketing efforts will be.
That definition contains two specific words: identity and image. When we think about identity, we have to imagine the way we look at ourselves and the way in which our qualities and beliefs make us unique. When we think of image, we have to think about the way we are seen by people looking in from the outside. These people could include visitors, government officials, or potential business partners for example. Identifying your heritage place’s identity and image is key, as branding isn’t about what you want to be, but rather about what you are right now and how you can work to commercialize that.
When working on creating a brand for your heritage place, we recommend involving the surrounding community as much as you can. Understand who the community thinks you are is important. Maybe they see you as “that crooked yellow house” or “that red shed in the corner.” Whatever they may see you as, it’s essential to acknowledge their perception and learn to value their input.
Branding can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few simple questions and ideas in mind, the process can become a creative and inspiring experience.
To find your brand, you need to think of two things: your core values and your story. When thinking of your values, make a list of things you prioritize. Ask the question “What are our goals as a heritage place?”
A goal could be creating a space where community members can gather. If that’s your goal, your value could be “to be a space where the community can come together.” Another goal could be making sure that your entrance fee is waived on certain days so that everyone, no matter their financial status, can come and enjoy what you have to offer. In that case, you could choose “accessible to our community” as a value. If you’re having a hard time thinking about values, you can also ask yourself “what attracts visitors to us in the first place?” Answering that question might expose some of your values.
Once you know your values, you need to look at your story. Crafting your story means taking your visitors on an emotional journey to help them connect with and remember your heritage place. You want your story to be as focused as possible. If keeping your story focused is becoming difficult, think about the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) and remember that all stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Branding and consistency go hand in hand. Before you begin your branding process, make a list of places where you would use your brand or share your key messages or value statement. These places might be on your website, social media platforms, letterhead, outdoor signage, or event listings. Once you officially begin the branding process, start crossing all of those places off as you cover them. This process can take some time. Start with your social media platforms, your website, and your letterhead and build out from there.
If you’re stumped with the idea of branding and don’t know how to get started, don’t be afraid to reach out to the public for some help. Marketing, graphic design, and history students (and professionals) might be able to lend a hand. Keep in mind that students are also often looking for volunteer hours for their resume.
Everyone loves a story – and heritage places have stories to tell. Your story is a great way to communicate what is special about your heritage place. You can also use it in all your marketing materials: flyers, website, e-mails, and social media posts.
The building that houses Toronto’s First Post Office has changed owners, uses, and shape many times since its opening in 1833. It was the first functioning post office to serve the city of Toronto.
Video is an incredibly powerful tool. With video, you can inform and entertain a large group of people in a creative way without having to worry about your audience getting bogged down by looking at too many words. And not only is it more engaging, but it can evoke feelings and tug on heart strings in a way that words on a page can’t.