Marshall Minnesota's Strength in Community Leads Branding Effort

Marshall Minnesota's Strength in Community Leads Branding Effort

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Marshall’s strength of growing strong families, neighbors, leaders and ideas will distinguish the way the city works to attract residents, businesses and visitors to the city.  The City of Marshall launched an intensive branding initiative to discover, define and design the area’s competitive differentiators.  In addition to Marshall’s rich community spirit, research revealed its continued commitment to cultivating the best in its people whether families, business owners, entrepreneurs, students and more.


Mayor Bob Byrnes emphasized the importance of the project, “To flourish, cities need to attract and retain businesses, talented workers, institutions, students, and visitors. A business or a potential resident or a visitor can go anywhere today, so articulating the unique characteristics through branding is important to attracting investment, people and capital to Marshall.”


To bring outside objectivity to the project, Marshall partnered with Jacksonville-based North Star Place Branding + Marketing. North Star has helped develop brands for more than 225 cities, regions, communities and municipalities nationwide. In addition, the project enlisted the support and expert advice from marketing professionals who are a part of Marshall’s corporate community.


“Your community’s brand is what people say about you when you are not around.  Branding is how you manage that reputation,” said Don McEachern, CEO of North Star.  “Our Community BrandPrint process digs out Marshall’s competitive identity as derived from its history, culture, geography and the society of the place.  Branding the city gives community members the tools to effectively manage the conversation that is taking place in order to build a reputation that is fair, honest and powerful.”


The integrated process included research, strategy and creative development along with implementation tactics. The Marshall brand was a collaborative, comprehensive nearly year-long effort that brought together views and ideas from community and business leaders as well as everyday residents. A dozen separate pieces of research were conducted to uncover the brand including focus groups, community surveys, in-person perception interviews, a competitive analysis, asset analysis, stakeholder visioning and on-the-street interviews.


Using the research, North Star developed a brand strategy that is relevant to Marshall’s current situation but also differentiates the area to consumers.  “We felt strongly from the beginning that we didn’t want the brand to be developed by a selected few, we are proud that we included the community and feel good that the brand is based off the feedback we received from many throughout this project.” said Sharon Hanson, City Administrator.  


As part of the project, North Star developed a graphic identity for the brand and made creative recommendations for marketing communications ranging from advertising to signage to digital media. A strategic plan containing dozens of ideas lays out a two-year roadmap for integrating the brand throughout the community in the areas of communications, community outreach, architecture, events, activities, product development, economic development, and partners such as the Chamber and Convention Visitor’s Bureau.


“People love Marshall but often lack the words to describe what makes it so great,” said Glenn Bader, Vice-President of Marketing for Ralco and Branding Project Committee Chair.  ““The new brand really captures what makes Marshall unique – the way we continually invest our time and resources to bring out the best in our families, businesses, neighborhoods and each other.”