Minnesota is home to numerous nationally and internationally known brands, ranging from household consumer names like Target and Best Buy to giants like Cargill and United Healthcare. Given their broad focus, their home state isn’t a singular marketing focus for these big companies. But what about brands where the state brand plays a part of the company brand? What impact does that have on marketing?
That was the topic of a brand panel at the recent Minnesota Marketing Summit in Minneapolis.
Moderated by Nicole Shannon, Executive Director, Advertising for Star Tribune, the session opened up to a standing room only crowd. Panelists were on-hand from Minnesota brands including Explore Minnesota, Minnesota State, Sunrise Banks, Sun Country, Children’s Minnesota and the Minneapolis Downtown Council to discuss: What is the Minnesota brand and how does it relate to marketers and brands of companies operating here?
Takeaways from the panel about the relationship between “the Minnesota brand” and Minnesota brands included everything from customer targeting to balancing in-state and out of state advertising. Of course, there was also an emphasis on Minnesota pride. Here are six nuggets of “Minnewisdom” that could be useful for you whether you’re marketing in the “Bold North” or in your local state.
#1 – Sometimes harder is better.
#2 – Creativity + Unified Message = Win.
#3 – Building Minnesota pride builds business.
#4 – Build a great brand by doing good.
#5 – Focusing on the why rather than the what.
#6 – Help customers own their brand experience.
Leah Wong, Vice President of External Relations for the Minneapolis Downtown Council, talked about how their 60th anniversary served as an opportunity to evaluate the brand and value proposition. This resulted in a rebranded approach: “Your Downtown” as a place to participate in and also contribute to. The focus was to help people own their experiences downtown, helping the brand stay relevant and to help people feel empowered.
As I hinted to earlier, there was also a lot of Minnesota pride in this discussion, with observations like, “Minnesota is happiest state in the United States,” and the often cited claim that there are more theater seats in Minneapolis per capita than any U.S. city outside New York.
“Flyover country” is a challenging perception to get over and the Minnesota marketers recommended that we should be proud of the distinctions. Also, with the greater diversity of people living in Minnesota, brands are making more efforts to help people see themselves in the marketing Minnesota brands do.
And if you’re not one to embrace the cold of Minnesota, Kelsey Dodson-Smith had some advice: “If you don’t feel like embracing winter, Sun Country.”
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