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Our Brand Promise

2012-08-01, Department, by Barbara Tulipane

Barbara TulipaneIf there is one thing we have learned in recent years about effective marketing for parks and recreation, it is that we must focus on the benefits. However, we have been deficient in one important category when it comes to selling our benefits, and that is we haven’t created a widely known brand that people can come to know and trust.

Fortune 500 companies understand the critical role branding plays in marketing strategies, and they are very good at it, too. Who doesn’t recognize the golden arches? But creating a brand is not enough. Getting your customer to know and love your brand is the key to success. If this is so successful in the corporate world, why aren’t we using some of that same strategy ourselves?  What is our brand and how do we communicate it to the public? 

I’ve spent a lot of time in my local parks lately. I have taken my granddaughter to a nearby water park and to several local playgrounds. I have hiked trails and played golf on public courses with friends. I make a point to visit public parks when I travel. Yet, while each park is unique, I have also seen that they have more than a few things in common. Parks are publicly owned and are supported by public funds. They are open to everyone regardless of age or ability. And not so evident but still true, they are part of a very large industry—an industry that employs tens of thousands of people, one that builds healthy communities, one that creates future leaders, one that provides active recreation for all ages, and one that protects natural and cultural resources. What an industry!  There is none like it in America. So, how do we create a brand that captures all of these benefits, and how do we use that brand to imprint ourselves in the minds and hearts of the public, reinforcing their beliefs that we deserve their support and loyalty? 

Let’s be honest. Some of the national branding campaigns launched by NRPA have been less than stellar, and they have had mixed results at best. Why were the results for some of these campaigns lackluster? One reason is that we didn't ground them in the experiences of our members. We didn't use a bottom-up approach, and we accepted the advice of firms and consultants who said they had all the answers.

Well, that’s about to change with America's Backyard. “America’s Backyard—Make Parks Yours” is our brand, and it is how we want the public to perceive us. But we know this campaign will mean nothing unless we have your support to create impressions and build trust in the public’s eye. Through agencies like yours, we can achieve the impressions that add value to the brand. Imagine if all NRPA members displayed the America’s Backyard logo in their parks. Or emailed it, tweeted it, and added it to brochures?  And what if there were powerful messages aimed at educating the public about the power of parks—how they help you get fit and stay healthy; how they protect your community from damaging storms and floods; how they provide a place for you and your families to have a picnic, connect with nature, and become rejuvenated?   

Well, there is such a campaign, and it is America’s Backyard—Make Parks Yours. NRPA will help you brand your parks and recreation programs with positive, uplifting messages that will create and sustain public support. America’s Backyard is coming your way and it is free to members. Please read this issue's feature about American’s Backyard, and then help us spread the word and establish our brand. It is one of the best that America has to offer.

Barbara Tulipane, CAE

President and CEO

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