Name Recognition

Madison ‘Branding’ effort continues
with the hiring of marketing firm

Committee moves forward
with several new initiatives

By Don Ward

(April 2011) – In an effort to continue Madison, Ind.’s brand marketing initiative that began in 2008, a committee of 14 citizens has been meeting monthly to explore ways to enhance and promote economic activity and make the downtown more attractive to residents and visitors alike.
The initiative began with a 64-page report prepared in late 2008 by Seattle-based consultant Roger Brooks at a cost of $50,000. The final report was presented to the community on April 1, 2009. It contained many recommendations for the city to undertake to improve the downtown and retail district, however, the overriding “brand” or theme that Brooks developed was not well received. Brooks promoted the theme “America’s Traditional Lifestyle” for Madison, adding that it was not the actual slogan or brand but a basis on which to build. He suggested several catch phrases, saying, “It is floral, food, fashion and art for the home and outdoor living.” He also cited Madison’s quaint, small-town feeling as a selling point.
At Brooks’ suggestion, a Brand Leadership Team, comprised of people from the merchant community, nonprofit and government agencies was formed to carry on the branding mission. Some members of the group have changed over the two years since it was formed, but progress has been made, they say. In fact, it took a big step in March to move the brand development along.

Madison's Branding Campaign

Branding Partners:
The partners who provided money for Madison’s branding initiative include the Jefferson County Board of Tourism, City of Madison, Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County, the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Community Foundation of Jefferson County. A Downtown Enhancement state grant of $20,000 was provided through the Madison Main Street Program for the project. Other members of the group are Historic Madison Inc. and the Lanier Mansion State Historic Site, but they did not contribute money to the project.

Madison Branding Timeline
March 24, 2008: Seattle-based tourism consultant Roger Brooks holds a public meeting at Madison City Hall to introduce the concept of branding to the public.
April 15, 2008: Roger Brooks conducts a Branding Workshop to a packed room at Madison City Hall.
June 2008: Using a $20,000 Downtown Enhancement grant awarded to the Madison Main Street Program, the City of Madison and other local agencies pool their funds to hire Brooks for $50,000 to develop a brand for Madison.
Dec. 11, 2008: Roger Brooks presents his findings before a large audience at the Brown Gym after having spent a week in town studying Madison.
April 1, 2009: Roger Brooks presents his final recommendations and 64-page Branding Report for Madison at the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library Auditorium. His theme for Madison is “America’s Traditional Lifestyle,” drawing on the quaint, hometown feeling. Brooks requests an additional $25,000 to further develop the brand, slogan, tag lines etc., and implement the marketing campaign.
Summer 2009: A Branding Leadership Team is formed comprised of 14 citizens representing the merchant community and various nonprofit and government agencies to move forward with branding. The team rejects Brooks’ theme but pursues several other recommendations from the report.
March 2011: The branding team hires RLR Associates of Indianapolis to develop a brand for Madison and create marketing materials to support it.

Branding Leadership Team as of April 2011:
Linda Lytle, executive director of the Madison Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; Corey Murphy, executive director of Economic Development Partners of Jefferson County; Jenny Eggenspiller, City of Madison’s director of Community Development and Outreach; John Staicer, executive director of Historic Madison Inc.; Rhonda Deeg, executive director of the Madison Main Street Program; Kevin Watkins of Pets Doc and representing the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce; Greg Ziesemer of Antiquity Furniture Restoration; Leticia Bajuyo, art professor at Hanover College; Julie Truax of The Attic and Coffee Mill Cafe; Lucy Dattilo of Something Simple gift shop; Nathan Montoya of Village Lights Bookstore; Steve Thomas of Thomas Family Winery; Trevor Crafton of Cozy Acres Golf Course; Gerry Reilly, Site Manager of Lanier Mansion State Historic Site.

Using $30,500 provided to it from the Milton-Madison Bridge Replacement Project’s Mitigation Funds, the group in mid-March hired an Indianapolis marketing firm, RLR Associates, to create the brand logos, slogan and other marketing materials and provide consulting services.
The group in late March then sent out to marketing companies a second request for proposals to bid on a marketing and P.R. campaign, including placing the ads for the new brand, according to BLT committee chairperson Jenny Eggenspiller. She expects this second part of the branding initiative to cost between $25,000 and $30,000 and a firm to be hired by late April.
“Since no definitive brand has yet been developed, we are hoping that RLR can move forward with the work that has already been done and come up with a brand for Madison that we will all like and support,” Eggenspiller said.
She added that RLR principal owner Rod Reid plans to attend the next BLT meeting on April 1 to get started working on the project. The group is hoping RLR will be finished in about four months.
The Bridge Mitigation Funds are being provided to Madison to help offset negative economic impacts of the bridge replacement over the Ohio River. That project began in earnest in January and is scheduled to be complete in September 2012. In all, $285,000 was provided to Madison, while $40,000 was provided to Milton, Ky.
Meantime, the branding group has moved forward on several fronts. The members divided into four subcommittees to tackle the following issues:
• Beautification;
• Developing the Broadway Street corridor into a landscaped, pedestrian-friendly boulevard and public meeting place;
• Entertainment and Attractions;
• Marketing;
• Narrowing Main Street (See related story, Page 3)
• Economic Restructuring (retail);
• Government Relations.
“This process takes time and a lot of people may not be aware of what we are doing, but progress is being made,” Eggenspiller said. “Things are coming along, and now that we have hired a marketing firm, things will really get going and people will soon see the results.”
The branding team has held many spirited debates in past meetings on a variety of issues, but most members concede that many of the tenants in Brooks’ report are valid and worth pursuing. Nevertheless, they decided to go a different direction and hired a different firm, Eggenspiller said.
Brooks held a similar workshop in nearby Oldham County, Ky., last fall. When asked about the Madison experience, he offered to return at no charge to review the report and work with the city to further develop a brand. But the branding team declined his offer.
In a related development, the City of Madison in February signed a $16,000 contract with the Community Based Projects Program at Ball State University to have students help with planning for the downtown and riverfront areas. The results of this project will be incorporated into any branding initiatives by the BLT, Eggenspiller said. Money for this project also came from the Bridge Mitigation Funds.
The students are expected to begin work this summer and to be led by Scott Truax, associate professor of urban planning and the program’s director. Truax met with the Madison Riverfront Development Committee in early March and asked the group to form at Steering Committee of local residents to help in the study. He said a public meeting is being planned for May or June to kick off the project, which will result in a set of recommendations for the city to consider.

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