PETERSBURG, AK <p>North Star Client Services Director Ed Barlow started the presentation with a few questions. </p>
<p> “If Petersburg were a famous person, who would it be and why?” </p>
<p>Barlow says sometimes the lighthearted questions are the most revealing. Petersburg Economic Development Council president Nancy Berg compared Petersburg to Captain Ron, from the 1992 movie by the same name. </p>
<p> “You know, the old salty sea captain who was kind of independent and crotchety. It just reminds me of Petersburg, you know, everybody kind of likes to do their own thing. And there’s a lot of characters here, that’s what makes it a fun place” </p>
<p>Throughout the meeting Barlow emphasized that branding is about highlighting the town’s existing strengths. </p>
<p> “This process is not about changing you, that’s not what this process is meant to do. It’s about discovering the best of you. And getting everyone on that same page, that single cohesive message, so every time a part of the community speaks, you’re operating together.” </p>
<p>North Star has been conducting interviews and meeting with residents during their weeklong stay in Petersburg. They will continue to do research remotely through October, including distributing a community survey and contacting people in other communities to learn about their perceptions of Petersburg. </p>
<p> Barlow says research reveals what is unique about a community and provides common ground for decision making. He says this unified message is often the most important product of the process, even though people tend to focus on the more tangible results. </p>
<p> “No one has ever moved anywhere, lived anywhere, or taken any business anywhere because of a logo or a line.” </p>
<p>But, Creative Director Kevin Hinson says a unifying visual theme is important. He compared the branding process to building a house, with the research being a solid foundation and the creative process being the decoration. </p>
<p> “A logo and a strapline, not the whole brand but it is a part of that brand. Maybe it’s that big couch or that big mirror. And important part of the brand, but not the whole brand. You have the simple things like the stationary and things like that. All the little elements that make up the whole house. No individual part of that is going be the most important, but when you put them all together, it makes a really beautiful house.” </p>
<p>He presented several case studies of other communities North Star has worked with, showing examples of how branding can be incorporated into everything from trash cans to business marketing to web pages. </p>
<p>Some residents were concerned about how Petersburg will implement the changes North Star recommends. NorthStar’s Barlow says the first step is ensuring that a single person is responsible, whether that means creating a new position or recruiting a volunteer. </p>
<p> “If you this by committee, meaning leading the brand once you’re ready to put it to work, it will likely fall through the cracks.” </p>
<p>Residents also raised concerns about how branding will be funded. The PEDC’s Nancy Berg says the Council has allocated some funds to start the process and will continue to seek community support. Berg also pointed to other small communities in Alaska, like Seward, that have worked with North Star to develop a brand. She says generating enthusiasm is the best place to start. </p>
<p> “I think there will be some questions, but hopefully the people that are here are so positive and excited about it, that hopefully they will bring that forth to the community.” </p>
<p>Berg says already the meeting brought together different segments of the community. </p>
<p> “People from the City here, people from PEDC and the Chamber, fishermen, and people I didn’t know, so I don’t know why they are here. So it was a diversified group of people.” </p>
<p>Berg also responded to concerns that branding Petersburg would mean losing the traditional theme of “Alaska’s Little Norway” </p>
<p> “ We’re not throwing out little Norway, it’s going to be incorporated in that, because that’s a big part of who we are, but it also doesn’t include the whole community. So we want to make it, in my opinion, more inclusive.” </p>
<p>After North Star finishes their research in October, they will compile a report that includes steps for implementing the brand, creative products like logos and style sheets, and suggestions for evaluating success.</p>
<p>For more information about the branding initiative you can contact the Petersburg Economic Development Council at 772-5861. You can also visit the North Star website at </p>