A sustainable regional economy requires a different approach to brand marketing. The formal measures of a brand often referred to as ‘differentiation’, ‘esteem’, and ‘relevance’ must also account for commitment to place and living in a just and sustainable world. The 21st century toolkit for brand marketers include a deeper knowledge of place including the good, the bad, and the ugly. Marketers need to tune into the aspirations and self-determination of the community. Practically speaking this means exploring creative public/private partnerships, events, and projects as marketing vehicles. It means bringing to life the truism ‘act locally, think globally’, by aligning with the positive, creative, entrepreneurial energies of communities to shape their future. In the last 15 years we have seen wholesale shifts in activities and priorities as more community members become stakeholder and stewards of place.
Yesterday, a Starbucks on the corner signaled a neighborhood was open for business. Today the locavore movements, proliferation of urban farms, green markets, community-activated waterfronts, and artisanal sectors, are magnets for residents, visitors, and new business. Witness the upsurge of Seattle, Cleveland, Portland, Or, Portland Me, and other cities whose policies recognize the socio-economic benefit of community self-determination, as well as the costs of overdevelopment and environmental degradation. So for the brand marketer that aligns with place and the collective problem-solving powers of communities, new markets and opportunities emerge.
For the next generation agency, there are many areas for creative partnerships that leverage efficiencies of scale, grassroots energy, and strategic place-making. Level M works at the intersection of community, policy, and flourishing.
A sustainable regional economy requires a different approach to brand marketing.