Lee’s Summit is in a good position to be heard over the clamor of neighboring communities, says the city’s newly hired brand manager.
James McKenna told members of the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce Visitors Council Dec. 14 that for comparison he plastered all the brand messages of surrounding cities and towns onto a poster board.
None stand out, he said.
“You have a wonderful opportunity. Everybody is best at being the same and you want to break out of the pack,” McKenna said.
McKenna was hired last month by the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the city and the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council.
McKenna said he has been meeting with organization managers, City Council members and doing additional market research to supplement work completed by North Star Destination Strategies.
His job is to help the community consistently use the brand concept developed by the Lee’s Summit 360 Branding Task Force and North Star.
He said his research confirms that study’s recommendation that Lee’s Summit should play to its strengths and promote itself as a thriving city that’s been successful in keeping its “hometown” atmosphere and is family friendly, while being a growing city in housing and commerce.
McKenna said he compared Lee’s Summit’s “brand” with values being sought by most Americans as reported by the Yankelovich Monitor, a 30-plus year study of lifestyle and attitudes.
Among the major trends that study identified, he said, is that success is being more defined as emotional experiences, not things, and people have a rising desire for a community that has an “authentic” sense of place where residents put emphasis on family and friends, but also a community working to provide a secure future.
People want a safe, secure community, prosperous, with a hometown feel but still forward looking, he said.
“It’s what you have happening in your downtown,” McKenna said.
McKenna, quoting Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos, said “A brand for a business, city or organization is like a reputation for a person.”
Lee’s Summit’s unifying message should be one of empowerment and that “if one chooses to live here, you’ll have the best of all worlds,” McKenna said.
McKenna said he will work with various groups to explain how to align their own promotions and material like stationary so individual efforts create “synergy.” “It’s not one size fits all, but we want to have a family resemblance,” he said.
McKenna said the goal is to “roll out” the brand in mid-February, hopefully in conjunction with a community event.
Part of the plan is to have a “landing page” on the Internet which displays the new look and feel for the city branding effort, with links to various web pages of Lee’s Summit organizations. He’s also considering uses for digital billboards and other media.
Lee’s Summit 360, the city, the Chamber of Commerce and Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council jostled and debated this fall to reach a decision on hiring a brand manager to oversee the campaign.
“We’ve got teams forming now to get this rolling out in the next months,” said Jon Ellis, who chaired the branding task force. “I know we ended up in the right spot.”