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Branding requires united community effort
Joni Hubred, News Editor
Joni Hubred, editor, Steele County Times

Almost 20 years ago, I jumped at an opportunity to break free of the news business and work in the field of public relations and marketing.

The foray didn’t last long; I’m a news person at heart. It proved valuable, though, by giving me the opportunity to see my community from a new perspective, as a resident and not an impartial observer.

During that time, I watched my town go through a community branding project with help from North Star – the company currently working to help brand Owatonna.

Crazy coincidence, right?

As I recall that long-ago final product didn’t get used much. The process was completed just as the 2008 recession hit, leaving no money for implementation. Officials also struggled to get buy-in for the process, even on the city council.

Branding is a challenging and complex process. It’s not about creating a logo or building a website or coming up with a catch phrase. In fact, it isn’t any single thing.

A brand is how people look at the community. It’s reputation. It’s the unique ideas and images that tell Owatonna’s story.

That’s why it’s important for you to share yours. Every story helps to create an authentic picture of where Owatonna is now–and that will eventually reveal what differentiates our community from others.

Owatonna already has a great story to tell. I saw that Friday at the Chamber of Commerce annual dinner, when Kent Patterson, president and CEO of Kamp Automation, talked about why his company chose to relocate from Waseca, where it was founded, to Owatonna.

“The easiest thing to do would have been to go to Lakeville and build a facility in the metro area… but we wanted to be unique,” he said.

There were specific factors–a central location for workers, cooperation with the city, restaurants and hotels, and access to the I-35 corridor. The story of how the company came to Owatonna provides more than just a recitation of facts. It helps reveal the heart of what makes Owatonna a great place to live and work.

Your story matters, too, and you can share it here:

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