Wilmington: Just Brand It

Beginning last summer, the City of Wilmington along with New Hanover County and the surrounding beach towns have attempted to develop a brand for Wilmington. Various groups within the community might have different perspectives on what this southeastern North Carolina town is all about, but officials involved believe there must be a common theme amongst the groups. They also have mentioned that the goal is not to “re-brand.” They have clearly stated that it is a first time effort to create an effective message of what Wilmington is to outsiders.

Beth Schrader, strategy and policy manager for the county believes that branding the town gives you an initiative you can sell. Once there is an established brand, outsiders will know what exactly sets Wilmington apart from other southern historic towns.

UNCW business and marketing students and professors have played a huge role in this process. They have aided in research and surveys, which has been an exciting opportunity for them to engage in applied learning.

Recently, the Brand Identity Leadership Team met to continue the mission of branding the Wilmington area. Newer ideas include Wilmington being a place to “discover” as well as the idea to market Wilmington as a “hidden treasure.”

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Tom Porter, chairman of the marketing department at the UNCW Cameron School of Business, presents rough ideas for the mission to brand Wilmington. (Photo from PortCityDaily.com)

The idea of attempting to brand an entire town might seem strange at first glance. But according to CEOs for Cities article, “Branding Your City,” cities have always been brands. When you think of our globalized world, every place has to compete with every other place for attention, which creates the need for a brand identity. Cities need to set themselves apart from other cities in order to attract the world to that city. Branding is a tool cities can use to define themselves, which is necessary to have a long-lasting impact. The brand will influence and shape the world’s perception of a town.

Branding a city is an important and commonly used tool, but the question that remains is does Wilmington already have a brand? Will the initiative be able to successfully brand something that has already existed for so long?

What is the Wilmington brand to you? Comment and let us know!

– Rachel Gracy

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