Give your Project a Branding Boost
December 1, 2021 | by Rachel Bright

Google. Apple. Coca-Cola. What comes to mind when you hear these words? For Apple, you probably think of technological innovation and sleek, minimalist style. For Coca-Cola, you might think about fun and relaxation, with a retro vibe. Each of these brands is easily recognizable, and most people have feelings and perceptions associated with them. Now think of a recent planning or engineering project in your community. Something like “County Road 118 Train Crossing Construction Project.” Does that pique your interest? Does it sound like something you would want to invest your time in or learn more about?

At FHI Studio, we believe that branding is not just for consumer products or global corporations. In fact, we’ve developed brand identities for dozens of planning and engineering projects, from comprehensive plans, to environmental studies, to transit projects – as part of a larger engagement strategy for each project. Why? Thoughtful community engagement provides the foundation for sound planning, successful projects, and better communities. A strong brand can enhance community engagement in a number of different ways.

Top 4 ways branding can enhance engagement

1
Break through the noise and generate recognition and interest.
We are constantly bombarded with slick advertising and other impactful imagery, particularly online, and people have a limited amount of time each day to spend interacting with digital content or participating in public meetings. A strong brand will grab attention and help your project stand out in a crowd of content vying for attention.
2
Justify investments of time and money.
Research shows that consumers believe products with recognizable brands are worth more than those without. (This is the reason many people are willing to pay more for brand-name products than generic.) The same goes for your planning or engineering project – investing in branding demonstrates that the project is valuable. It signals to stakeholders and members of the public that participating in the project is worth their time and effort. It also helps justify why the federal/state/municipal authorities should be spending money on the project in the first place.
3
Provide a communication platform and storytelling framework.
A brand is more than a logo and tagline. A well-conceived brand identity also incorporates a larger message or story about your project. It helps the public understand why the project should matter to them. For example, community members might ask, “Why spend so much time and money on long-range transportation planning?” The answer is that today’s transportation decisions will shape our communities, our economy, and our way of life into the future. A strong brand provides the platform for communicating this message.
4
Demonstrate that you value your community’s input.
By investing in branding, you’re saying to your community, “This project is important, and we value your input in making this project a success.” In particular, investing in branding and messaging that specifically targets underrepresented populations (e.g., non-English speakers) demonstrates that you value the input of ALL members of your community.

Interested in learning more?

If you would like to discuss how branding can boost community engagement on your next project, reach out to our branding specialist, Rachel Bright, at rbright@fhistudio.com.