Pursuant to the recently approved Economic Development and Tourism strategic plans, Haldimand County is seeking proposals from qualified consultants to assist in the development of a comprehensive brand identity and strategy. The Branding Strategy will inform the Economic Development and Tourism Division’s brand positioning and marketing efforts moving forward. The Economic Development and Tourism Division does not currently have a defined brand and implementation strategy that clearly expresses our unique competitive advantage to potential investors, residents and visitors. We currently lack a clearly defined story to tell, about what we have to offer and why potential investors/businesses and tourists should choose Haldimand County. It has been identified through strategic review that a clear well-defined brand is needed to raise the profile of Haldimand County, its assets, opportunities, and quality of life benefits.
It is anticipated that the branding strategy will direct the development of a marketing strategy. The brand strategy will inform initiatives to target the key economic sectors and tourist profiles identified.
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The Corporation of Haldimand County is a single tier municipal entity with a population of approximately 45,000. It is primarily rural in character, with 1251 square km land area and 83 km of shoreline along Lake Erie. The County’s 2018 budget includes a $63,687,390 operating budget, and a $107,737,050 annual capital program. Haldimand County operates generally under the authority of the Municipal Act of Ontario as well as other applicable legislation.
Haldimand County is located on the north shore of Lake Erie and is bordered by: Norfolk County, two First Nations Reserves, Brant County, City of Hamilton and the Region of Niagara. It is well connected by a series of provincial highways. Highway 6 runs north-south from the City of Hamilton through Haldimand County. Highway 6 also links Haldimand County to the 400 series highway (the major highway system in Ontario), which is within a 15 minute drive. Highway 3 passes through Haldimand County and runs east-west from Buffalo to Detroit.
The local economy is dominated by agriculture, large scale employers including steel and related manufacturing, petroleum refining, small business and a growing tourism base. The internationally recognized Heritage Grand River traverses through the County. Southwest Ontario Tourism Corporation (SWOTC) is the provincially mandated Regional Tourism Organization for Southwestern Ontario (including Haldimand County). The larger tourism region (RTO1) is publicly branded as ‘Ontario’s Southwest’.
The Economic Development and Tourism Division function resides in the Planning and Economic Development Department. The Division currently has 5.25 FTEs and one summer student with a gross annual operating budget of $650,340. In August 2015, Haldimand County Council identified their key priorities for the 2014-2018 Term of Council which included the development of an Economic Development and Tourism Strategy.
In 2017 Haldimand County Council approved the Economic Development Strategy and Tourism Strategic Action Plans. Through the public consultation process it was clearly revealed that stakeholders both internally and externally cannot easily identify or describe Haldimand’s unique identity, brand, strengths, location or the economic development opportunities that exist. Both strategies identified the importance of a brand positioning initiative to create a competitive identity marker (unique selling proposition) to inform both economic investment attraction efforts and destination development/promotion efforts in Haldimand County moving forward.
Scope of Work:
Haldimand County is seeking proposals from qualified consultants to undertake a process with key community stakeholders to establish and define the unique value proposition, create a compelling brand, accompanying implementation strategy, and implementation plan for Haldimand County Economic Development and Tourism. The brand should generate community pride and better position the division for resident, business, workforce and tourist attraction.
The consultant will:
- Be able to demonstrate experience and familiarity with best practices and emerging trends in brand development and positioning.
- Demonstrate the ability to consult with stakeholders from across Haldimand County and external to the County to determine our unique value proposition/competitive advantage, identify actions, key target audiences and produce a strategy that will build upon the economic and tourism potential of Haldimand County.
- Develop potential branding using a collaborative process to obtain support for the final brand from key stakeholders.
- Create a detailed and pragmatic implementation plan with outcome metrics that provides a high level road map to effectively market the County via the brand in consultation with economic development and tourism staff and key stakeholders.
- Have a proven track record that demonstrates their ability to fulfill the deliverables within the project timeline and budget while providing effective communication and project updates to the Project Steering Committee and Council. All information provided by the Consultant must be in a format compatible with Microsoft Office 2013.
The following scope of work will form the basis on the assignment:
- The successful consultant will focus on ‘place branding’ while developing the Haldimand County Economic Development and Tourism Branding Strategy. Creating a single brand which extends it to all its offerings and interactions. The strategy will identify the County’s unique strengths, experiences and ‘sense of place’, all of which need to be distinctive to Haldimand County (and MUST be validated through research conducted during the development process).
- Using research as the foundation, the strategy will outline the County’s unique selling proposition (competitive advantage). The resulting brand messaging will outline the value Haldimand County offers in alignment with each priority audience.
- The process will seek to incorporate the many unique attributes and communities that make-up Haldimand County, taking into consideration what Haldimand County means to both internal and external audiences (including but not limited to existing and/or potential new residents, businesses and tourists). Effective communication throughout the branding process via an established communication plan will focus on raising awareness towards the importance of integrated place branding amongst stakeholders, citizens and the local media. Striving to ensure that the community and relevant stakeholder groups are engaged and understand/buy-into the purpose of the branding process.
- The consultant will develop a corresponding brand launch multi-phased implementation plan. (Haldimand County staff will execute the phased implementation plan.) The brand strategy and implementation plans will be the point of reference for Divisional activities pertaining to the brand moving forward, and should provide orientation for stakeholders. Influencing how staff and partners talk about the brand when promoting the benefits to residents, visitors and businesses alike.
- The brand identity will emerge through a collaborative process that identifies Haldimand County’s existing mix of business, culture, infrastructure, economic and social assets and leverages these to craft a unique, compelling message for target audiences.
- Other critical deliverables include a comprehensive visual system, and catalogue, to graphically convey the brand message and unique value proposition and to unify the divisions collateral design language.
- The final piece of the branding and marketing project is the development of an integrated marketing communications plan that includes overarching brand awareness efforts as well as guidance (but not execution) for targeted campaigns for select groups i.e. prospective economic development targets, visitors and residents etc.
The resulting brand, strategy, and messaging should support the goals of the Economic Development and Tourism strategies with a particular emphasis on:
- Attracting, retaining and growing business;
- Building vibrant communities;
- Maintaining and enhancing Haldimand County’s high quality of life;
- Becoming investment ready; and
- Creating a unique Haldimand County Economic Development identify for residential, business and tourism attraction.
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