At an open meeting held at Carrollton City Hall on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 4:00 p.m., April Saunders of cre8minds LLC and Maggie Worth of WheatGerm LLC reported summary results of the City of Carrollton’s community branding project’s research phase.
This first stage of the project, which is critical to the development of a genuine, relevant brand, began with an extensive review of City plans, marketing materials, websites, and documents, followed by a series of meetings with key stakeholder groups, in which a total of 12 City employees and elected officials participated. The consultants then organized seven focus groups, comprised of more than 55 participants, which included community members, small business owners, and college students. Stakeholder and focus groups were asked a series of open-ended questions designed to elicit perspectives and common themes, and those answers were used to develop an 11-question broad-based survey made available to the public.
The survey opened on Monday, February 27th and closed on Monday, March 13th. An electronic survey was fielded online and paper surveys were available by request at City Hall. In total, 1,724 individuals completed either an electronic or paper survey. According to the consultants, this exceptionally high rate of participation provides evidence of an engaged, active community.
Key survey findings centered around community perceptions of the City, which will be relevant to development and implementation of the brand. For example, when asked to choose three favorites from a list of options, nearly half of respondents selected “small-town vibe.” Other frequently-chosen answers include community spirit and rural surroundings, as well as the arts culture, the availability of recreational options, a strong healthcare system, and educational options. People who chose to enter their own answers typically indicated specific amenities such as The Amp and the GreenBelt.
In response to subsequent questions, participants overwhelmingly indicated that Carrollton is a great place to raise families, that they “love living in Carrollton,” and that the City is “on the cusp of great things.”
More than 50 percent of survey participants chose “friendly” as the word they felt best described Carrollton. Other answers receiving significant response include “safe (38%), “welcoming,” (37%), and “multigenerational” (28%). Additional words chosen include “giving,” “diverse,” “creative,” “close-knit,” “active,” and “peaceful.”
About one-third of participants responded to the survey’s final, open-text question, “is there anything else you’d like to tell us about Carrollton?” Most participants offered praise for the City, a few expressed concerns, and several made requests for additional opportunities, including more things to do such as bowling alleys, etc. These comments are not central to brand development activities, but were reported as additional information that the City might choose to consider in the future.
In addition to other research activities, the consultants completed an extensive competitor/comparator review.
Key take-aways from the research process as a whole included the importance of a small-town environment, in combination with unique amenities, as central to Carrollton’s identity. This finding is significant to the brand development process. The consultants also discovered a need for centralized communication, particularly in relationship to events, and a need to revise and refresh existing perceptions of available amenities. These factors will play a role in development of brand implementation recommendations. The consultants have begun the process of brand and plan development, which represent phases two and three of the project.