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The city burst element located on the left side of the CBD Marketing logo and the agency website.
November 4, 2016
The Key to a Powerful Economic Development Brand? Emotion.
Marla Forbes

“If you don’t have a brand and consistent message, the marketplace will create one for you.”

~ Prominent Commercial Real Estate Broker

Many Economic Development professionals often wonder if it’s really worth the time, effort, and money to develop a brand for their organization. After all, when you get down to it, businesses looking to locate are interested in the facts: available labor pool, cost of land, cost of labor, logistics, etc.  Right? True enough. However, nearly every city, state and region has something to offer in these categories, or no organization would ever consider locating there. Add to that, your competitors love the opportunity to tell businesses all about you – only they shape the narrative for you, instead of you telling the story. Just how flattering do you think they will be?

So, how do you shape the narrative and create more than a laundry list of facts to promote your organization?

Use creative, consistent, evocative brand messaging.

By promoting your attributes in a way that is engaging, truthful, relevant and slightly emotional, you can elicit a visceral and intrinsic reaction to emotion, even when the facts are forgotten.

For example:

Just Do It

The Ultimate Driving Machine

Don’t Leave Home Without it

I don’t even have to mention the product in the taglines above, but you already know who am talking about. And I’m willing to bet that you probably have a point of view about these products.

Brands make a difference in economic development, too.

“Well,” you may say, “these are consumer brands, with consumer marketing budgets.”

Fair enough – but if we apply this to the Economic Development world, think of the following:

Wide Open for Business

Pure …

The State that Works

Need I mention the states?

Yes, these are only taglines, and a brand goes well beyond the tagline, but getting to the point where the tagline alone conveys the brand image, is where we all should want to be.

To that end, let me depart with a few more quotes from some Economic Development and CRE professionals:

“A solid brand will help to shape and frame your entire sales and marketing pitch; you won’t have to reinvent the wheel each time you pursue a business”


“EDO’s that have a brand don’t have to immediately resort to financial incentives – the other assets will speak for themselves”

Wouldn’t that be lovely?


Tune in next time for a primer on how to go about building the brand that will make you stand out in a cluttered and competitive field, otherwise known as Economic Development.