Ideation workshop brainstorms brand
Published 12:04 am Friday, October 16, 2015
NATCHEZ — Before the branding comes the brainstorming.
That’s the mindset The Goss Agency — an Asheville, N.C. based cultural tourism branding firm — is taking in its quest to identify a brand position for Natchez on the eve of its tricentennial celebration.
The Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau signed a $90,000 contract with The Goss Agency in September to develop and promote a comprehensive brand for the city.
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CVB director Kevin Kirby said the city’s brand would first come in the form of gathering input from past, current and potential visitors along with residents.
That information, Kirby said, would then be used to create concepts that would be fleshed out into logos, taglines, typeface styles and more.
Natchez’s branding information, he said, would live past Natchez’s 300th birthday year.
Robert Davies, brand strategist for The Goss Agency, said one of the ways The Goss Agency has been developing Natchez’s brand is by going straight to the locals.
Approximately 30 Natchez residents and tourism-related business owners met Monday at the Natchez Convention Center for a five-hour ideation workshop.
The goal of the workshop, Davies said, was to identify Natchez’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to attracting visitors, as well as brainstorm statements that describe Natchez.
“We did an inventory where we generated statements that might be useful for us in creating the (brand) strategy down the road,” said Davies, adding that more than 200 statements were generated during the workshop.
Paul Wade, owner of Starling’s Rest Bed and Breakfast in Natchez and one of the participants at the workshop, said an example of a statement generated during the workshop was “More for your money in Mississippi.”
“What was really good about this agency doing this was that they came in and involved a diverse group of citizens to provide them (The Goss Agency) with information they would use in their branding,” Wade said. “It was kind of a ‘brain dump’ of ideas.”
Wade said the majority of the workshop was dedicated to identifying what Natchez does well in attracting visitors.
Some portions of the workshop, however, were also used to identify some of the city’s flaws, Wade said.
“In almost every aspect of our current branding, we have a riverboat,” Wade said.
When guests arrive in Natchez, however, Wade said they’re often disappointed to find no permanent riverboat presence — besides the Isle of Capri Casino, which is scheduled to close Sunday.
“I call it the riverboat paradox,” Wade said.
Davies said The Goss Agency took all participants’ comments — both the good and the bad — into consideration for the city’s brand development.
“The next step is to report all the findings from the (previous) studies and the workshop,” Davies said. “We’re looking for areas of strength, areas for improvement and opportunities to do things in the future.”
Davies said brainstorming is a critical step the agency takes with all its clients before developing any brand.
“A lot of companies make the mistake of just jumping out there with a marketing budget, and not going through this process to make the most of their dollars,” Davies said.
Jeff Goss, president and creative director for The Goss Agency, said by the end of November, the agency would have compiled all results from its studies on Natchez and have a defined direction for the city’s brand.
“We want to have an identifier for the brand and a visual concept that would convey the brand,” Goss said. “With what Natchez has to offer, I’m excited as I’ve ever been about the potential of moving the needle. I’m excited to let the world know what Natchez has to offer.”
As a Natchez business owner, Wade said he was impressed with Monday’s workshop, and is confident the agency will secure a solid brand concept for Natchez.
“I think this brainstorming busted the floodgates open,” Wade said. “I only see positive in Natchez’s future.”