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What’s in a name? EDC wants to brand Bloomington-Normal

Cars driving down College Avenue
Emily Bollinger
Economic development officials in McLean County plan to come up with a consistent way to brand Bloomington-Normal.

Bloomington-Normal is known for a lot of things: State Farm, two universities, and a new electric vehicle plant just to name a few.

The community also means different things to different people. For example, what are we, Bloomington-Normal, BloNo, B-N, the Twin Cities?

Economic developers say when attracting talent and business, it helps to have one clear and unifying message to explain what your community represents and why you should want to be here.

Patrick Hoban speaking
Emily Bollinger
Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban, CEO of the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council, said that’s why the EDC plans to launch a branding campaign next year.

“If you ask anyone in our community what Bloomington-Normal means to them, everyone has something different to say," he explained, adding the community has a lot to offer perspective employers and employees, but that can make messaging difficult.

“Because we are so diverse — we are not quite a college town, we’re not really a distribution town, some manufacturing, some finance, we are a little bit of everything,” Hoban said. “It would be nice to have one consistent message whenever we are speaking with retaining talent and attracting new (talent).”

Hoban said branding is something bigger cities do well and it can put smaller communities like Bloomington-Normal at a disadvantage.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have a good example for a community of our size. Major metros definitely have theirs down, but we are going to have to figure that out,” Hoban said.

The EDC plans to hire a consultant later this month to study the best ways to brand the Twin City area. He said the six-month study will cost less than $100,000 and will be covered entirely by EDC funds. He said the EDC will then hire a branding manager to run the campaign and involve other organizations.

Hoban said BN Advantage, an economic development campaign the EDC rolled out in 2015 with other community groups, has “run its course,” adding that branding was just one aspect of that effort.

Hoban said the EDC plans to roll out the branding campaign by the middle of next year, and that it likely will include advertising through various media and social media.

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