GODFREY — A long-awaited branding campaign for the village of Godfrey was unveiled Tuesday evening before an audience of residents, business owners and community leaders.
More than 200 people filled the event room at Hatheway Cultural Center on the campus of Lewis and Clark Community College to hear the plan that was almost five years in the making.
Monica Bristow opened the presentation with background on the campaign, then introduced marketing executive Mara “Mitch” Meyers, who spoke on brand importance. Bristow is president of the RiverBend Growth Association and a member of the village’s Community Planning, Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee. Meyers was instrumental in launching the Spuds MacKenzie campaign. The party dog was the mascot for Bud Light.
“Brands are valuable,” Meyers said. “It means you can count on a consistent message.”
She praised the village’s leaders for “thinking big.” Billion-dollar companies like Apple work to create a consistent message with their brand, but “I didn’t expect a village the size of Godfrey to create and protect a brand and experience.”
Meyers said the village needs to build on its message, communicate what’s important and leverage the brand. Brand icons included LCCC for its educational opportunities, Josephine’s as a destination shop and dining experience and Beverly Farm, which “shows compassion and care for people in the community.”
Bristow said the campaign began in October 2010 when the CPEDI Committee started developing a strategic plan for the village. Tax increment financing and business districts were established and Nashville-based North Star Destination Strategies was hired to develop a brand strategy.
North Star met with residents, community leaders and business owners to discover what they saw as Godfrey’s strengths and weaknesses.
“They did a little spying, if you will,” Bristow said.
Godfrey was described as a “bedroom community” that offered safe and affordable housing but was missing more restaurants and retail shops. The village’s proximity to Illinois 255 was seen as a plus to its growth. Josephine’s and LCCC were considered assets to the area.
“But 31.9 percent see Godfrey as a suburb of Alton,” Bristow said. “We want to change that.”
Moving forward, the village will continue to put into place economic development tools such as investing in utilities. First-round interviews begin next week to hire a full-time brand marketing director.
“Our aim is to boost businesses and bring in more,” Bristow told a reporter after the presentation.
Resident Cathy Kasten said she thought the branding concept was interesting and that the village was on the right track.
“In order for Godfrey to grow, we have to make it a place people want to live,” she said. “We have businesses, wonderful schools, retail shops. Everything we need is right here.”
“Godfrey’s going to grow. The I-255 is wonderful for that,” Jody Hagen said.
Tom Long, chairman of the CPEDI Committee, and Mayor Mike McCormick both expressed pleasure at the large turnout.
“It was an overwhelming success,” Long said. “I’m proud of the community for taking the time to come out.”
McCormick said attendance was “above and beyond” what they were expecting. He said he was pleased with local businesses and food vendors for their support.
Godfrey Dental Care owner Dr. Jim Mathus was at the presentation with his wife, Arlene.
“We’ve been looking forward to this night since we first heard of (the branding plan),” Mathus said. “This will get Godfrey noticed as a place and destination, as opposed to a suburb. We’ve always loved living in Godfrey but wish more people knew about it.”
“Everyone is a brand ambassador,” Meyers told the audience during her presentation. “Tell people about Godfrey. Connect your products and services to the brand they created. Let them know how good you have it in God’s country.”
“For those searching for room to grow in God’s Country, Godfrey, Illinois, north of St. Louis and home to Lewis and Clark Community College, is a community where the promise of more opens up, creating a land of opportunity so the sky is the limit.”
“Godfrey, Illinois: You can see your future from here.”