By Dave DeWitte
The campaign to brand Iowa’s Creative Corridor as a region will enter a new phase next month, encouraging Corridor residents to use the Creative Corridor logo and share their events and stories online.
A new weekly email newsletter called Iowa’s Creative Corridor Digest and a revamped Iowa’s Creative Corridor website will be launched on Feb. 2, according to Kathy Kaiser, executive director of communications and marketing at Kirkwood Community College, which is leading the initiative in cooperation with the University of Iowa.
The weekly email, coming out on Monday mornings, will highlight upcoming events throughout the Corridor. The revamped website will include events, stories and other shared content from residents.
Dawn Jones, Kirkwood’s new marketing coordinator for the Iowa’s Creative Corridor Brand, is distributing new electronic templates for the brand’s double-helix logo and helping organizations and companies integrate them into everything from their email signature block to their marketing materials.
“We’re providing the brand in a kind of plug-and-play form for companies to incorporate with very few restrictions on its use,” Ms. Kaiser said. Ms. Jones will also help companies work the Creative Corridor message into employee recruitment talks.
It’s the fourth phase of a branding campaign to aid workforce recruitment and retention, and build regional identity. It emphasizes six areas: building, creating, connecting, innovating, learning and sharing.
“With the Iowa’s Creative Corridor campaign, we are really capturing the spirit of a 500,000-person region,” Ms. Kaiser said. “We are capturing that momentum and bringing that momentum out into the public as much as we can.”
The goal of the next phase is to get everybody involved in spreading the Creative Corridor brand and supporting the regional identity, according to Kim Johnson Becicka, vice president of continuing education and training services at Kirkwood.
“Creativity means many different things,” Ms. Becicka said. “Each of the five areas of the campaign have several aspects. Connecting, for instance, includes bridging generational differences. Learning includes literature, research and media. Creating encompasses cultural heritage, storytelling and diversity.”
The Creative Corridor branding initiative originated in the Corridor Business Alliance, an informal group of business and government leaders seeking to improve regional ties, cooperation and identity. North Star, a consultant specializing in regional branding, conducted community-based research to develop the branding theme.
Kirkwood Community College, which overlaps the entire region of Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington counties, became involved in administering it to help the region meet its challenges in workforce recruitment and retention.
The campaign was launched on April 19, 2013. Its third and most recent phase was a grassroots community-building project led by Amanda Styron West and Andy Stoll’s Seed Here Studio highlighting entrepreneurial activity as a strong element in the brand, Ms. Becicka said.
SEED Here Studio also developed the website and e-newsletter under contract with Kirkwood Community College, Ms. Becicka added.
The current phase will focus on regional businesses and organizations, and will continue for about three years, Ms. Becicka said.
More details will be shared during the Feb. 2 launch, but for now businesses and organizations can subscribe to the email newsletter or request logo templates and other assistance by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The $240,000 budget for the three-year phase of the Iowa’s Creative Corridor Campaign is expected to be funded by the Corridor Business Alliance, Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa, Ms. Becicka said.