Branding and business

August 2, 2013 

In Missouri alone, there are 961 cities and 115 counties competing for business and tourism dollars. For the City of Lee’s Summit, our brand is our most formidable asset. So, it should be no big surprise that a city, much like a product or service doesn’t sell itself. It requires a unique and consistent voice, image and presence.

Why? Well, in the words of Stewart Henderson Britt… “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a woman (or man) in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.”

Building a civic brand for Lee’s Summit represents an opportunity to create a powerful and lasting emotional connection with our audience, by communicating a point of differentiation that sets us apart in the category. That’s why research is so important to our branding program. It tells us what compulsions drive the decision-making process so that our brand tone and messaging can touch our audience at their core. Each visitor’s own personal experience and interaction needs to validate our brand persona. Great civic brands represent a clear, single virtue which not only resonates with our audience, but also serves to inoculate them from any and all competitive messaging…whether it’s Overland Park, Independence, Olathe, Lenexa or Kansas City.

The benefits of our city working together include:

1. A “bigger pie” which allows everyone to get a larger slice.

2. When we all share a common vision, it fosters a unified and cooperative spirit.

3. Collaboration builds consistency which creates universal respect and credibility for our community.

4. It paves the way for a greater return on investment from any and all joint marketing efforts.

5. Increased customers, increased income and increased tax revenues.

Marketing and advertising are two common business practices threads that tie public and private sectors together. And they’re essential to both profitability and growth. Marketing allows us to reinforce the essence of our brand, attract and retain visitors and investors and is a valuable tool to reducing the “leakage” which occurs when residents and business owners spend their money outside our community.

Five questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about partnering with the community’s branding program:

1. Do you understand the need to communicate a consistent brand personality which will identify and distinguish Lee’s Summit from all competitive destinations?

2. Do you have the resources to do nothing or simply go it alone?

3. Do you share the same values, goals and commitment as others within the community?

4. Do you think your target market is compatible with other businesses within the community?

5. Do you believe that your business would be more profitable if you go it alone?

Our “Yours Truly” marketing campaign continues to be about comfort through connection. It was created to be optimistic, enthusiastic and relevant as we position our community as a place where working together, all things are possible.

Yours Truly,

James McKenna is the branding manager for the City of Lee’s Summit. Reach him at

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