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Country Style: How to successfully rebrand a regional town

Algo Mas Peterborough , Courtesy Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North image

How do you rebrand a country town? 

That’s a question Showcase SA member and Adelaide brand agency Algo Más is perhaps best placed to answer, after recently launching the ‘Make Tracks to Peterborough’ campaign – a project intended to drive greater awareness of South Australia’s old steam capital.

Having developed brands for other South Australian towns including Whyalla, Victor Harbor and Murray Bridge, Algo Mas came to the Peterborough project with runs on the board.

Even the challenge of COVID-19 only just delayed its anticipated launch to June 2020, in line with the state’s easing of lockdown restrictions.

But while the process to develop a brand for a town is near identical to that of any product or business client, there is one key challenge a creative agency needs to manage – local pride. 

Yes, while the consumer is always front-of-mind in any branding exercise, a country town’s sense-of-identity is critical to the success or failure of any new campaign.

Even with the project being driven by the District Council of Peterborough and the Regional Development Australia Yorke and Mid North (RDAYMN), community support was a critical factor at every stage of the assignment.

“The involvement of local residents is vital when developing a place brand for a town,” says Algo Más managing director Julie Wrobel.

“In the case of Peterborough, [the brand] needed to resonate with the community just as much as it needed to resonate with target audiences as a tourism-focused brand.

“When branding is done well, it must engender a sense of pride in residents if it is to maintain its momentum for the long term. If a brand isn’t embraced by a community, it will fail.”

Peterborough: Algo Mas channels town history

Peterborough is located 250km north of the Adelaide CBD and is noted for being South Australia’s steam rail capital – with over 100 daily train arrivals at the town station during its heyday.

So it was logical for a branding exercise to draw on Peterborough’s locomotive heritage. 

The challenge for Algo Más was to connect that heritage to the idea of Peterborough as contemporary regional town for living, working and tourism.

“There’s more to Peterborough’s story than its rail history,” Wrobel explains. 

“The town is home to stunning period architecture, spectacular scenic drives and trails as well as quality amenities, including the free RV park in the centre of town, making it a fantastic destination caravan and camping enthusiasts and adventurers.

“[We] went to Peterborough early in the project to meet with key stakeholders and to facilitate a brand workshop (and) we were able to hear first-hand how residents felt about their town as well as the features and benefits they thought could be promoted. 

“Locals were also invited to take part in online and hardcopy surveys (and) to complement this primary research, we undertook secondary research … to identify internal strengths and external opportunities.”

From here, the tagline ‘Make Tracks To Peterborough’ was born. 

Algo Mas Peterborough logo

While the state navigates the challenges of COVID-19, that country towns are pressing ahead with brand campaigns speaks to a sense of regional optimism.

But to maximise the impact of the campaign, Algo Mas developed brand guidelines to help the council and RDAYMN assist local businesses and groups to leverage the Peterborough brand.

“A town’s decision to invest in developing a new place brand is clear evidence that optimism and confidence exists – and we’re pleased to say that positivity is alive and well in regional South Australia,” Wrobel says.

“The desire [of Council and RDAYMN] to see the brand succeed meant that representatives were happy to support and advocate for it.

“They have done a brilliant job keeping the local community updated and sharing information about why a new brand was needed, how it can be applied and how local businesses and organisations can incorporate it into their own marketing activities.” 

You can see the Peterborough campaign in effect here, or just head around 250km north of Adelaide and turn left at the Peterborough exit on the Barrier Highway.

Algo Mas is a Showcase SA member and Adelaide-based branding and creative agency. Find out more about Algo Mas here.

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