The Town of Ashland, in cooperation with stakeholders from all segments of the community, recently completed phase one of a branding initiative. Phase one involved development of a “Strategic Brand Platform.”
A strategic brand platform is a self-determined statement about what Ashland is, what makes it special, and why people should care. Town Manager Josh Farrar led a 10-month process with citizens, business owners, College representatives and greater Ashland community members to come up with Ashland’s Strategic Brand Platform.
The platform is a sentence that represents the essence of our community, and can be used a critical touchstone for future marketing and advertising endeavors.
You may be asking yourself, what are they doing? Ashland already has a brand. We are the Center of the Universe. Well, you are right. We are the Center of the Universe, but that phrase is a tagline not a brand. Typically, you would develop your strategic brand platform and then come up with a tagline based on the brand. The process the community just completed helps build the underlying brand behind our Center of the Universe tagline. This information is very important when you develop marketing campaigns and or try to build an experience around your brand.
After months of work, stakeholder meetings, and community surveys, the Strategic Brand Platform was endorsed by the Ashland Town Council on March 6, 2018. Our brand platform is:
Experience Ashland, Central Virginia’s creative small town with universal appeal; build connections and discover you belong.
When you read the brand platform it is helpful to understand what the stakeholder group discussed getting to this point. The group felt the Town of Ashland is first and foremost the original definition of a community. It’s authentic. It’s that place in the world where you feel like you belong. It’s one big neighborhood. People look out for each other and welcome each other.
But don’t be misled, Ashland isn’t your typical small Town. We love the slower pace on offer here in the northern most southern state, but there is no lack of excitement in Ashland. We embrace big ideas as well as the quirkiness of being a place where everyone knows your name.
Each year we welcome 1,400 students to Randolph-Macon College with open arms, and they, in turn, provide a youthful vibrancy to the place we consider the Center of the Universe. People support one another and our local businesses.
We would love for you to spend a weekend in our charming downtown, or to simply hop off the highway and take advantage of the hospitality on offer by our travel oriented businesses. Ashland is a place where people and businesses connect; to one another, to customers from across the region, and to whatever is important to them.
Our location in the Richmond Metropolitan area along I-95, Rte. 1, and the CSX rail line are all great assets, but they don’t define this community, the people do. People seeking connection, people looking for something a little different, and people seeking authentic community.
Town Manager Josh Farrar said, “I’m thrilled with the results of this process. The stakeholder group really nailed the essence of Ashland. Just as important as the end product is that this statement wasn’t developed by one individual, one business, or one group. It’s the result of people from a wide cross section of our community coming together to articulate a shared definition of who we are as place.”
As the next step, the Town will engage with the VCU Brand Center to develop the graphic artwork to go along with the brand platform as well as preliminary marketing campaign ideas. For more information please contact Joshua Farrar at (804) 798-9219 or EMAIL.