community rebranding- when to consider a refresh

as many communities consider how to best make their way into the future with a solid, if not growing, tax base, jobs, increasing numbers of young families, well-attended schools and opportunities for their youth; a common stop in the road is to undergo a municipal or community rebranding.

when is the right time to take on the process?

let’s look at an example:  the small Saskatchewan community of Tisdale.  consider what might be a little, shall we say, incongruent, about their current brand…


let’s presume there’s a little more going on than the the obvious uncomfortable reference, and see whad’ dup in Tisdale!

located about 210 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, there was a time that rapeseed and honey contributed significantly to the town’s economy and, therefore, their identity.

however, it’s been 60 years since the inception of the tagline, land of rape and honey.  over these many years, the slogan has generated its fair share of snickers and derision; the term canola gained favour over rapeseed – for obvious reasons; and organic rapeseed now accounts for less than one per cent of crops grown in the region and honey production has decreased significantly.

a lot can change in over half a century, and when does that evolution determine a change in community brand?

this is the question facing the town of Tisdale and its council.  in turn, the community, a town of about 3,200 people is being surveyed regarding their feelings regarding the relevancy of the current brand and what they might consider as new possibilities moving forward.

this is what they, and other communities exploring the possibility of a brand refresh, need to consider:

has the local industry changed or evolved?  has the demographic changed- who lives there and what do they do, for work, recreation, leisure and for fun?  what are the values of the community?  take a look at the region’s assets.  have they changed? are they more or less significant in the community? does the old brand resonate?  is it relevant to, not only the community at present, but the vision of where the community sees itself 5, 10, 20 years down the road?

lastly, does a new or refreshed brand fit the budget (it’s a big ticket process, to be done right) and does it seem worth it to the town’s growth and evolution.  perhaps a sense of sentimentality for the old brand, hearkening to a particularly significant point in history actually still speaks to the community and its values… the first step, of course, is asking them.

my opinion?  Tisdale is certainly due for a change.  i’m not sure that rape and honey really represent the spirit and values of the community in this new century and, really, i can’t imagine a tagline featuring the word rape plays well in any promotion or advertising.

so, good luck, Tisdale, as you undertake the valuable process of defining, or redefining, who you are as a town and as a community.  whichever direction you go- to rebrand or not rebrand- just the process will be effective at inspiring a renewed sense of community spirit as you take stock of who you are and why you’re proud to live in Tisdale!


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