Municipal Brand Development & Business Attraction.
Strategically located between Pittsburgh and Greensburg, North Huntingdon boasts a number of infrastructural assets, such as the PA Turnpike, Route 30, regional airports, river ports, as well as easy access to the nearby Laurel Highlands recreational area. A Pennsylvania community on the rise, with a population of about 31,000 residents, North Huntingdon Township is located on the western edge of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, about 19 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.
Trailhead: Where We Started
While North Huntingdon serves, in part, as a bedroom community for employment centers to the east and west, it also has a strong and stable employment base of its own. In recent years, this base has helped the Township retain employment opportunities despite national recession trends. For example, while the national manufacturing sector continues to shed employment, North Huntingdon manufacturers are expanding, demonstrating strong employment levels.
Despite these trends, North Huntingdon has struggled to develop its identity. The nearby downtown district of Irwin, a much smaller community entirely surrounded by North Huntingdon, is more widely known due to post office address, exit signs off of the PA Turnpike, and other identifiers. Regionally, North Huntingdon’s name recognition was lost; many regional residents were aware of the smaller Irwin, but were not aware of North Huntingdon’s location. The Township also wanted to have a greater impact and support businesses throughout the community, recognizing that the businesses located within the Township are important economic drivers to the regional economy. Lastly, as a gateway to the Laurel Highlands, the township saw the need to incorporate the recreational economy of the outdoor amenities that exist right down the road.
Trek: Steps We’ve Taken
The Township contracted with TrailBlaze Creative’s team to conduct an initial marketing assessment and brand audit to understand the current state of the North Huntingdon brand and activities occurring throughout the Township and beyond that reflect the Township’s image. First, an online assessment was constructed and released throughout the community to educate participants on the goals of the branding project and request their opinion on North Huntingdon’s past, present, and future. TrailBlaze also conducted interviews with key Township leaders and stakeholders to dig deeper into the brand audit. Lastly, by conducting a series of focus group sessions and documenting the constructive dialog of participants, the Township and project team affirmed thematic data acquired to date (through surveys and interviews) and provided the Township with substantial feedback on their operations.
Utilizing data from the focus groups, interviews, and surveys, the common theme, “Connected,” was recognized as a leading and promising concept, as residents and businesses alike view their geographic location as being ideally situated within and around important regional infrastructure. TrailBlaze Creative developed a new identity package for the Township, focusing on the Connected theme, while also incorporating graphical elements representing its proximity to the Laurel Highlands, as well as the letters “N” and “H” into the identity design. TrailBlaze also assisted the Township with the development of collateral materials, including infographics, brochures, folders, case studies, and fact sheets, aimed at attracting further targeted development, business, and residential interests to North Huntingdon.
Additionally, a newsletter campaign, which features unique written and video content produced by TrailBlaze Creative, was also developed to communicate with Township stakeholders. These efforts have led to the redesign of the North Huntingdon website in Fall 2017.
Summit: Vision Realized
North Huntingdon Township continues to engage with the TrailBlaze team to support and sustain community growth initiatives. Currently, efforts are underway to expand the Township’s collateral through additional and varied business profile case studies. TrailBlaze is working to establish increased business activity and expansion by working with the regional Small Business Development Center and the county, providing business programming to small businesses. Since the Connected campaign began, the Township has attracted one Fortune 500 business to the region (700 jobs), as well as several other regional retail and restaurant developments. TrailBlaze continues to assist the Township in marketing key business attraction initiatives and incentives to help grow North Huntingdon.
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