Like many great ideas, the development of Sedalia’s new brand started with a goal and a vision. The goal was to capitalize on our city’s growth and momentum, and the vision was to create an authentic visual identity that would enhance community pride, recruit new residents and businesses and attract visitors.
The opportunity came in January 2020 when the City of Sedalia requested proposals for a community branding campaign. In May 2020, the city selected Callis to facilitate the campaign, which included research, strategy, creative and planning phases. Collaborating with a team from the city that include Mayor John Kehde, City Administrator Kelvin Shaw, Community Development Director John Simmons and Councilmen Andrew Dawson and Jeff Leeman, we got to work.
Callis conducted 16 one-on-one interviews with a variety of people who were inside and outside our community and included newcomers, business and neighborhood leaders and long-time residents. Three focus groups and a brand workshop were also hosted and nearly 80 people attended those events. In addition, about 240 people responded to an online survey that was created and distributed via email, the newspaper and social media. Callis also conducted two meetings with city employees and created an online survey for department directors to gather information about website needs.
Using the research, we developed key takeaways and insights that helped produce the brand strategy, key audiences, messaging and recommendations that could be used to roll out a new brand. The most important part of this phase was ensuring that the brand was authentic and accurately represented our community’s values and personality.
We then went to work creating logo mark and tagline options for the city team to consider. The final logo mark and tagline personifies warmth, grittiness and comfort. It also has movement that represents nods to our rail, trail and musical history.
The tagline, Let’s Cross Paths, has multiple meanings. Literally, it can represent opportunities to join and interact in physical ways through places we meet, greet, work and relax; our highways and streets; and the Katy Trail that bisects our city. Figuratively, it represents invitations to interact, connect, work together and learn more. It’s authentic and accurate and represents the core tenants of our community’s personality – warm, friendly, generous and open.
Among the many recommendations for how to roll out the brand, the city team chose three areas for the first year: a new website, signage and a marketing/media plan. While there are many people to communicate with about a new community brand, the first group is our own area residents in order to build brand awareness, excitement and pride. After all, we’re the best ambassadors for our community! The rollout kicked off at the July 4th Fireworks Celebration and other activities are planned for the Missouri State Fair, Sedalia Parks and Recreation events, Smith-Cotton Homecoming and Chamber of Commerce activities.
Projects like these remind us that the joy in life is not in the destination but rather the journey. In this case, the journey included a strategic process that allowed us to talk to a lot of great people who love our community and know it well. It’s been our pleasure to use that process to articulate that Sedalia is indeed a great place to cross paths.