When businesses come together in their community they create an opportunity to build a strong community brand. This has been done with great success over the past number of years by the businesses in The Latin Quarter and The West End. Both of these areas have succeeded in building up a strong image through their unique online branding, business participation and mini festivals throughout the year.
Branded communities never appear out of thin air. They’re built with vision, effort and hard work from the people involved who know they have an opportunity to improve and maintain the spirit of the community where they belong while at the same time helping to bring more customers to their business.
These branded business communities organise celebrations and events throughout the year that invite locals and loyal customers to enjoy a festival ambiance in their area. It becomes a great way to say thank you to loyal customers, meet new people and build relationships with neighbouring business.
Galway is now becoming famous for it festival atmosphere bringing thousands of new visitors to the city each year. From St. Patrick day in March, the Galway food Festival and the Cuirt Literature Festival in April, the Film Fleadh, the Galway Arts Festival, the Galway Races, the Ironman competition, the September Races, two Oyster Festivals, a Christmas market and not to mention the Volvo Ocean Race. These festivals tell the world that Galway is opened for business. Although the calendar looks full, there is always room for more!
During the Volvo Ocean Race local businesses got together to host their own mini fringe festivals to celebrate different nations and nationalities. In Eyre Square the businesses created a mini funfair to represent an American day. In Middle Street the local business community arranged a beautiful French market while the Salthill businesses got together to put on a weeklong event with daily concerts and activities to celebrate Brazilian day. Maybe the Volvo Ocean Race will be back, maybe not, however there is no reason why these business communities can’t repeat their efforts on an annual bases by creating their own local festivals.
The businesses in these areas came together to work as teams and do something positive to boost the profile of their zone within the city. They attracted people to their streets and to their place of business by staging events and mini festivals. In most cases the shops and products became secondary, giving way to the place, people, history, fun and a welcoming atmosphere to the local part of the city.
If your business is in an area where there is an established branded community, find out who you need to talk to and get involved. If there is no business association or community base where you operate, start one.
Get your neigbouring businesses together to start a community group and plan a small festival. Be inspired by the existing businesses that have got it right. Get a basic plan or idea. Start recruiting people. Strength comes in numbers; remember the saying “Many hands make light work”. Ask what can you do now to get the momentum going?
How much time should you give? I believe whatever length of time it takes. The effort will be worth it. What steps can you take to start? Contact people. Get enthusiastic about it, roll up your sleeves and just go for it. Start with a clearly written plan to develop your business community brand. Get others on board. Mark out a date or weekend in the yearly calendar for an event. Pick a theme for the event to be organised by you and your branded business group and go for it.
Going through this exercise will help you articulate your vision so other businesses can buy into your ideas. It will help everybody see where they might be able to get involved.
The best way to find out if you can make something like this work, is to just do it.
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