In east central Iowa, two local media groups, The Gazette Co. and Corridor Media Group, have teamed up with community leaders to create a regional brand. The collaboration is called Corridor 2020, an initiative created to communicate and share information about building a stronger regional identity.
By figuring out the strengths and weaknesses of the region, the group’s strategy is to learn about residents as well as what people outside the region think of the area, in order to compete on a national and global stage.
After interviewing more than 1,500 people throughout the region by phone, one-on-one meetings, email surveys, and focus groups, Corridor 2020 members learned residents did not have a good understanding of what the region has to offer.
The branding effort took almost two years to complete. Now the region formerly known as Iowa’s Technology Corridor has been renamed Iowa’s Creative Corridor to represent the area’s blend of art, science, and technology. The corridor stretches across 4,400 square miles and is home to more than 445,000 residents.
Talks to find a regional brand began in 2008, but the devastating summer floods that impacted Cedar Rapids and Iowa City that year forced discussions to take a backseat. A year later, Chuck Peters, president and chief executive officer of The Gazette Co., which publishes the daily Cedar Rapids Gazette
, and John Lohman, president of the local Corridor Media Group and publisher of the Corridor Business Journal
, decided it was time to bring the topic back to the table.
Lohman said it makes sense that a daily newspaper and business journal would lead the charge, because they understand the regional economy and issues.
Working alongside them is the Corridor Business Alliance, which includes 13 area organizations specializing in economic development. A regional research and branding task force was formed, made up of volunteers that include Peters, government officials, university representatives, and business leaders. Lohman served as chairman of the rebranding effort.
Various organizations, from the Eastern Iowa Airport to the University of Iowa, pledged financial support to fund the initiative.
The branding effort also resulted in a new regional logo — a double-helix, that Lohman said represents the duality of the region.
“Put it all together and there’s something special,” he said.
Lohman said feedback so far has been great. “People are excited to implement it, whether it’s getting the logo out or creating more events around the name.” Lohman even changed the masthead of the business journal to reflect the corridor’s new name.
But Peters said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to “make (the brand) our own.”
“To me, it was all about the process,” Peters said. “This was a true regional collaboration.”
He added that the branding effort has created a viable business model for his newspaper. “We’re providing information that is actionable and we can facilitate — and that has added value.”
For more information, visit corridor2020.com