July 19, 2022 |

The Rawlins City Council earlier this month approved a $5,000 appropriation to fund a six-month branding campaign that has begun with a month-long information gathering effort.

The money will come from Strategic Plan Funding. The $5,000 will pay for a one-time visit from an outside consultant to moderate a town hall meeting later this month and for other materials as needed. The rest of the process of building a brand for the city will be spearheaded by an in-house steering committee.

At the July 5th council meeting, Rawlins DDA/Main Street Director Pam Thayer said creating the campaign in-house will save the city at least $40,000.

Thayer and Economic Development Director Nat Davidson laid out the six month, four-step process during a 75-minute workshop on June 21st. Not all the council members attended the workshop where the information-gathering component of the campaign, entitled “Why Rawlins,” was fleshed out in detail.

Davidson said a community becomes branded with an image whether it likes it or not. It’s up to the community to control its brand, he said.

“Get out of Dodge” was used as an example of negative branding, a lasting perception created by outsiders depicting a dangerous, unwelcoming city. Thayer and Davidson used “Virginia is for lovers” as a positive example that came from an inside effort to paint a welcoming picture of a community.

The “Why Rawlins” component of the branding effort was described as a systemized process of gathering intel from residents and tourists to find out what they like and enjoy about Rawlins.

The mission of discovering the “true identity” of the city is intended to inspire greater pride and confidence among residents, attract more visitors and ultimately to retain them.

During the fact-finding portion of the process, surveys, small discussion groups with a variety of local organizations and one large town hall meeting will be used to discover the perceptions—good, bad and ugly—that people already have about Rawlins.

Put simply, branding highlights the positive, the tangible – and puts into words what people feel makes a community unique and memorable.

During workshop discussion, Councilman Debari Martinez used the Latino Fest as an example of something that sets the city apart and promotes unity. Martinez compared it to Saratoga’s Ice Fishing Derby as a unique event tied to a community. The balloon festival in Lander was another example. Councilwoman Jacqueline Wells talked about the city’s close proximity to recreational activities in any direction.

Mayor Terry Weickum cautioned that branding can be off target, referring to an attempt to describe Rawlins as a destination community on a par with Jackson or Devil’s Tower. The mayor said the branding should be believable.

At the work session, Thayer summed up council members remarks, categorizing them as history, culture, memories and activities. At the council meeting two weeks later, Thayer said branding ultimately is about building community pride.

Tag lines flow out of a brand. For instance, the current tag line the City of Green River is: “Fish it. Float it. Live it.”

Despite some confusion among the council members who had not attended the prior workshop, the motion at the July 5th meeting to approve to $5,000 to begin the process of creating a new brand passed unanimously.

The entire process from fact-finding to producing branding samples will take six months. The initial fact-finding phase is a six-week process and begins immediately.

The Town Hall meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 27th in the Jefferey Center at 6 p.m. Discussions will focus on:
• What do we want to be known for?
• What should our tag line be?
• What are we proud of?

An online survey also has gone live. It contains only five questions, including, “What do you want Rawlins to be known for around the country?”

The link to the survey is available at https://www.rawlinswy.gov/survey

Thayer and Davidson said the information collected over the next few weeks will be collated and then boiled down to two, three or four big ideas that will be used to distill branding ideas. The in-house committee working on the branding will produce the final branding choices by the end of the year.

Pictured above: File photo of Downtown Rawlins. Photo by Cali O’Hare/Bigfoot 99.

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