Developing a ‘Made-in’ Brand Strategy

5 min read

Developing a Made-in brand for your community

At CivicBrand we’re huge fans of made-in brands and have developed several for our clients. Developing a made-in brand for your community has numerous benefits and can provide a boost to both civic pride and your local economy. We hope this article will help you think through many of the different benefits and best practices of developing and implementing a made-in brand in your town.

Benefits of a Made-In Brand:

Makes it easier on consumers

Everyone likes to say support local despite the fact that many of those same verbal supporters of shopping local are addicted to Amazon. However, by developing a made-in brand you can make it easier for consumers to make the right choice. Products, apparel and businesses with the local ‘made-in’ brand provide a quick and easy visual reminder to support local.

Helps businesses participate in brand strategy

At CivicBrand we often develop a community-wide brand system. This includes brand elements for city government, tourism, economic development, residents and businesses that are all coordinated to make up a brand platform. By developing a made-in brand, you make it easy for local businesses to participate in the community-wide brand strategy. Additionally, it provides them a valuable marketing tool to help their product stand out.

Reinforces brand principles

By being part of a larger community brand platform, your made-in brand should directly tie to the community brand principles. This will further solidify the strength of the brand and make it more impactful. When this is done properly, consumers are not just supporting local – they are buying into and supporting the community values, principles and culture.

Generates Revenue

As part of brand implementation plans, we help cities develop a multi-phase approach for rolling out their made-in brand. This goal in early phases is to get the brand out there and build recognition. At this phase, you want to make it as easy as possible for businesses to participate and so often access to use the mark is free and the business simply fills out an online form agreeing to very basic usage rules and stating how they plan to use the brand. As the brand grows and evolves, future phases can include licensing, annual usage fees and more detailed verification of local businesses. This can generate a great amount of revenue that can support other community and brand initiatives.


Creates brand ambassadors

The ultimate goal of developing a community brand is to create brand ambassadors – those champions who proudly support and represent the brand. By developing a made-in brand, you make it easier for those residents and visitors that proudly purchase, wear, display and post photos of products with your made-in brand. You may be surprised to see how much people love to share their support for their community. In a recent branding project we did for Burleson, TX, one resident even got a tattoo of the BTX Made brand that we developed!

So you’re sold on the idea of creating a made-in brand for your community. How do you do it?

Make it part of a community-wide brand platform

As mentioned above we often develop made-in brands as part of a larger and coordinated brand platform. Cities are already complex places with many different organizations and departments. It’s easy for them to become overbranded with every department having its own brand, a visit brand, a chamber brand, etc. At the end of the day, they are all promoting the same place. Therefore a brand platform that allows for variance needed but that is tightly coordinated and built around common brand principles will be far more effective. In Two Rivers, WI we developed a brand system that included a made-in brand and also developed the strategy for an activated pop-up show on Main Street in downtown that would feature a wide range of businesses and locally made products with a Two Rivers Made-In Shop!

Phased growth and roll-out

As mentioned above made-in brands can become revenue generators that can fund various community initiatives. However, even the biggest brands in the world meant nothing on day 1. Therefore it’s important to have a phased approach to rolling out the brand. The early phases should make it free and easy with limited control. This is important because often there isn’t the operational infrastructure to manage it and the goal is simply to get the brand out there. As the brand matures and gains recognition, you can move to phases of tighter control and licensing.

Look beyond just “made” in.

We’re calling it a made-in brand but there can be multiple ways that businesses can participate if you look beyond simply products that are physically made in your community. This could be “designed-in” or “grown-in”. You may even want to expand the program to businesses that create local jobs and allow them to participate in the program with an “employer” badge. In Waupaca, WI we developed a series of these brands that cover a range of options for businesses to utilize including Waupaca Grown, Waupaca Designed, Waupaca Employer, and Waupaca Raised.

CivicBrand develops brand platforms for cities and districts across the country. If you’re looking for help in developing and implementing a brand platform that includes a made-in brand, we’d love to help or feel free to take these ideas and run with it on your own!


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