Across America, communities have become more vanilla over the past several decades due to the proliferation of franchises, chain stores, and chain restaurants.
People yearn for a connection to places and other people, and these desires are slowly helping rebuild the demand for local products.
Communities are caught in the vicious cycle of needing jobs and increased tax revenue to fund improvements, while it's hard for existing businesses to grow when people don't have jobs, and hard to recruit new businesses when those improvements are needed.
Boosting geographic awareness can help increase revenues which leads to jobs, and helps business recruitment because it helps generate funding for infrastructure improvement and shows the community's commitment to helping existing businesses.
The geographical brand can also put the community's name on the radar of people who may never hear about it otherwise.
Rural Humboldt County, California, was suffering from devastating losses in their primary industries of forestry and fishing, and the weed trade accounted for 1/4 of their economy. The county made the decision to position itself as an an artisan producer of goods, and created the brand Humboldt Made.
Within 6 years, 60 businesses were a part of the brand, ranging from artists and craftsmen to farms, ranches, dairies, and cheese, wine, and beer makers. The companies contribute millions of dollars to the local economy and employ more than 10,000 people in niche manufacturing & specialty foods.
When buyers from Whole Foods and Tony's Fine Foods came calling to see if any of the businesses were ready to expand into new markets, they met with more than 20 businesses.
We recently worked with Halifax County, Virginia, to create their new geographic brand - Genuine Halifax. the brand is in the early stages of being rolled out, but any product made, grown, raised, or produced in the county is eligible to display the brand.
Restaurants are also beginning to use it on menus to indicate when a dish uses local ingredients.
Just ask Humboldt County.