Tip Sheet: Branding Your Historic Place

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.

Brand Development – Involving the Community

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.


  1. Host a brainstorming session where members of the community can meet members of staff at your heritage place and discuss ideas regarding brand.

  3. If you have an email list, send an email out and ask your followers for their input.

  5. Sending a notice in the mail might pique the interest of community members. It’s also one of the most sure-fire ways to make sure that your message gets to the person directly.

And remember, you don’t have to pick just one option! Reaching out to the community means trying to touch base with a large demographic, and using more than one method of communication may help.

01. The Big Question: What is my brand?

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.

02. Keep it consistent

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.

03. Reaching out for Help

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.