A new brand for the Greater St. Cloud Region has been launched! “On the Grow!” resulted from the GSDC Talent Initiative and the desire of area businesses to attract and retain top talent. Linnihan Foy was selected as our agency partner in regional brand project. They engaged CJ Olson Market Research to conduct primary and secondary research. In order to understand current perceptions of and aspirations for the region, focus groups were conducted. The groups included area college students, residents, business executives, inbound commuters, and residents of the northwest Twin Cities metro area. “On the Grow” was revealed by Brian Myres, GSDC Marketing Committee Chair, at the September Innovation Summit. His remarks are as follows:
“GREATER ST CLOUD, ON THE GROW!
The Greater St Could Region started out being a cross roads where ox carts passed and the Mississippi River meandered its way through the Region. Granite and agriculture become large parts of the economy in the early days, and the City of St. Cloud became the “Granite City” in honor of all its granite quarries and granite companies. Certainly, granite provided a strong foundation which is still a thriving part of our economy.
During prohibition, we even became known for bootleg whiskey and gave a new meaning to Minnesota 13, which was an innovation in seed corn from the University of MN that allowed farmers to substantially increase their yields. Innovative local farmers turned the corn into whiskey, which met a need locally and in from Minneapolis to Chicago. In the 1960s, the Crossroads Mall was developed and the Greater St Cloud region became a retail hub. Today, however, retail is everywhere including on our phones.
What is the Greater St Cloud Region today? Who are we? What is our identity? We are about 200,000 people, we are about 30,000 college students, we still have granite, we still have a river, but unlike Rochester that is defined by the Mayo clinic and Duluth which is defined by Lake Superior, we are not one thing, we are many things. So what do you do with that?
Do you wring your hands and give up? Or do you seek to find an identity that is evidenced in the DNA of the community so it is believable, but also is aspirational, and can be embodied by everyone?
Our regional branding project began with secondary research on the area and primary research using focus groups that covered college students from every college, business people, nonprofit people, commuters into St. Cloud, people that live in the Northwest suburbs of Minneapolis, and a mix of people who simply live in the greater St. Cloud region.
Our mission was to determine what people thought of our community, what defines us today, and what could define us in the future. We found that people struggled a bit to say who we are. To a few we are still the Granite City, but to most we are so much more. The one thing uncovered was that people come here to grow. We are a conference destination where people grow their knowledge and grow their networks. We are also a regional medical center where people get healthy and extend (or grow) their longevity. We are also a place where people grow their wealth and prosperity through their jobs and investments in businesses. People also attend colleges and universities here to grow their knowledge. People also participate in the arts to grow their appreciation of them. We are also a local, as well as an international, center of religious faith and teaching where people come to grow in their faith and spirituality. Lastly, people come here to grow and nurture their families.
The theme that surfaced over and over again was growth. After much thought and input from many different people, we came up with “Greater St Cloud, On the Grow.” We believe it captures the spirit of those who live here and why they live here, it captures what we want to do as a community, and it is a reflection of what has formed our community to date.
If we work together and continue to innovate together, we can be that place where all people thrive and we become “the” place to be in the upper Midwest. This is our time to build a purpose economy right here in the Greater St Cloud Region. Please join us in this journey!”
The GSDC Marketing Committee, led by Brian Myres (Myres Consulting), Mimi Bitzan (D.J. Bitzan Jewelers) and Heather Pieper-Olson (College of Saint Benedict), are creating a plan to develop and execute the brand. For more information contact Sonja Gidlow at 320-252-5203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.