With input from various stakeholders across the community, a decision was made to jointly fund a Request for Proposals for an external agency that specializes in branding. After receiving eight competitive proposals, a professional agreement with North Star Place Branding + Marketing was developed based on their expertise in municipality and community-wide branding. The first step was to conduct research to define Owatonna’s existing reputation. Data was the primary driver for uncovering Owatonna’s community-wide brand. More than 2,300 unique inputs provided insights about Owatonna through focus groups, interviews, calls and a survey. This research defined Owatonna’s greatest strengths and what makes our community special and unique. The statistically significant body of quantitative and qualitative research ensured the brand is informed by the reality of the perceptions from consumers, residents and a variety of stakeholders. The findings provide a current snapshot of our community’s reputation and forged a path for developing a new shared brand.
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Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not around. In other words, your reputation! Just like people or products, communities have reputations based on all the different experiences people have had with a community. Branding is the process of changing, clarifying, refining or improving that reputation. Effective branding can focus people on the positive differentiators unique to Owatonna. This will help us stand out as a preferred location. It also creates a sense of place and belonging. The stronger and more defined our reputation, the more people will want to live, do business and visit here.
A brand is not a logo or a tagline. A brand is a set of ideas and images (including a logo) that set an expectation of what our community is about. Our brand is our unique story based on how people experience Owatonna. It is comprised of photos, messaging, graphics and other branded elements that capture the Owatonna experience.
While the City has utilized several logos throughout its history, the City of Owatonna has not had a clearly defined brand. The Chamber and the City agreed to support a common brand identity that will align efforts across the community to build a unified brand that reflects Owatonna’s personality, history and bright future. The City, Owatonna Partners for Economic Development, the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism and Main Street Owatonna now have similar branding. While these entities operate independently, they also serve a unified vision and purpose. A cohesive brand between these entities exemplifies to others that we reach higher together. Successfully implemented, the strategy resulting from the branding project will help build Owatonna’s reputation, strengthen partnerships and enhance the community’s and City’s recognition and visibility. The community-wide brand helps create a sense of "place" that Owatonna provides as a home, a workplace and a place to visit. The brand will reinforce a feeling of being welcomed and valued as part of our community.
Like Owatonna’s unique name, the round vibrant icon in the logomark reflects the community’s harmonious blend of tradition and progress while portraying Owatonna’s unique treasure trove of architectural elements rooted in prairie style that grace the community on several historic buildings.
You will start seeing the brand digitally through each entity’s social media and website. You will also see new print materials, signage and apparel. Over time, when new materials need to be replaced or created, you will see the new brand being replaced where the previous logo and branding was used. As City staff incorporate this new brand into its materials and operations, we will continue using current supplies as we look for opportunities to replace the former logo with our new set of comprehensive branding tools to create a consistent and positive impression for all those who encounter our services, amenities and employees. Using creative tools and strategies, we will close the gap between Owatonna’s existing brand reputation and one that aspires to reflect Owatonna today and into the future.
While the new brand will become the primary visual identity for the City of Owatonna, the historic seal and coat of arms artwork is being elevated for more formal, limited uses when its historical value is essential to portray. It is part of the City of Owatonna’s history and will continue as part of its brand. The original Westerlund artwork from 1965 will be displayed in the Council Chambers at City Hall. This artwork may only be used in branding when resolution or detail is not compromised and when it is not cost-prohibitive to preserve the details and integrity of the art. Ideally, it should be used when the Bob Bowman poem can accompany it for context.
Yes! There are ways you can use the brand. For example, if you display that your business is “Proudly Located in Owatonna” or that your product is “Made in Owatonna, Minnesota” you will have access to approved media assets at no cost. Examples of how to use this would be on exterior signage, billboards, product labels, websites, social media posts and recruitment ads. Contact Deanna Sheely, Communications Manager at the City of Owatonna for additional information.
The project cost of $95,000 included extensive quantitative and qualitative research that was conducted from January through September 2023; creative development which included brand identity, strapline and logo development; and brand execution, strategy and implementation deliverables; the final report and presentation deliverables. This process took nearly a year to complete. The City of Owatonna provided $25,000 in its 2023 budget to support this community-wide initiative. The process of implementing the new brand and the costs associated with purchasing items that display the new brand will happen over time. Over time as existing signage, vehicles, print materials and other branded items need to be purchased or replaced, the new strategic messaging and branding will be utilized.