It was nearly two years in the making, but on Friday, Aug. 4, the new community brand for St. Joseph, Mo., formally launched to the public. The campaign is made entirely by St. Joseph residents both creatively in design and concept,and tangibly in execution of content and merchandise.
“Made with Uncommon Character” simply summarizes St. Joseph. This city of more than 76,000 residents has an abundance of character, in its architecture, its residents and in its amenities. It is uncommon -- from its pioneering and rebellious history, to its entrepreneurial spirit of yesterday and today. St. Joseph and its residents are unlike anywhere and anyone else.
All are invited to see campaign materials at www.uncommoncharacter.com and follow its social media channels on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Residents are encouraged to participate in the campaign by suggesting people, places or things to be featured as “Made with Uncommon Character” and to use #uncommoncharacter on social media. A chance to place submissions is on the website.
The campaign theme was formed by a group of 12 St. Joseph creative residents in June of 2016. The group contained writers, graphic artists, web designers, a photographer, videographer and a musician. Their talents and backgrounds varied, but they had one thing in common, they were St. Joseph residents and they cared about their city.
Since the theme was created, it was tested and refined to what you see today by even more local creative residents. The words “Uncommon Character”are hand drawn by local artist Matthew Robertson and the rest of the logo was created and digitized by local graphic designer Lauren Black.
The campaign, of course, is much more than a logo. A website, billboards, social media platforms, merchandise and print, radio and digital advertising all have been created by St. Joseph residents and all vendors used are St. Joseph businesses.
“St. Joseph has much to be proud of,” said Kristi Bailey, who leads St. Joseph Community Branding LLC. “Our city has such talented residents, there was no reason to look elsewhere or hire a marketing firm from another city. Who else knows our community better than St. Joseph natives, or transplants who have moved here? No one else should tell our story. And when it came time to spend money with vendors, it was very important to the group to keep the business all local.”
The campaign features characteristics that make St. Joseph and the surrounding area different, and residents, places and things that help bring those traits to life.
For instance, the word “bright” describes St. Joseph native Conner Hazelrigg. She created the Sunshine Box, which she developed during an internship at Sunshine Electronic Display in St. Joseph. Her innovation harnesses solar energy to power 10 cell phones at once and is used in countries like Haiti, where 80 percent of people have cell phones but only 12 percent have access to electricity.
“St. Joseph has so many positive stories to tell,” Bailey said. “In today’s social media landscape, it’s easy to share the negative. By telling stories of our friends, family and neighbors and the extraordinary, cool or quirky things they are doing, we can help improve our residents’ morale. Often, visitors and new residents see all the good of St. Joseph, where our own residents are the hardest on themselves. Our group wants to help change that.”
St. Joseph Community Branding LLC is a nonprofit organization led by a collaborative grassroots group of communications and creative professionals.
“Our group members all have specific audiences – businesses, tourists, students, etc., but we didn’t have one consistent message for our residents and potential residents alike,” Bailey said. “We know St. Joseph isn’t perfect. What town is? We have our quirks and we have problems to solve. But we have always persevered and we will continue to do so. One thing about St. Joseph, good or bad, it’s never boring and that’s something to take pride in.”
The campaign is funded by residents who believe in the campaign and have donated on its gofundme page and by investments by organizations and businesses whose leaders feel that St. Joseph is a unique place to live, work and play.
Simon Fink, a musician with Under the Big Oak Tree, has written an original song about St. Joseph and its uncommon character in a song called, “Are You In Love?” It tells of St. Joseph’s past and the pursuit of current residents who continually strive to make their lives better.
“There was definitely some magic in the room when we met as a creative team last summer,” Fink said. “I used a lot of ideas from those creative sessions in the song, which I’m hoping will help people get excited about the campaign and about their town.”
The website is a tool for residents, tourists and potential residents. It has a full events calendar, job postings, information on education, housing and recreation options. It will be marketed so that when people search online for relocating to St. Joseph, that the site is easily found.
“We want to make a good first impression, and make it easy for potential residents to find everything they need on one website. We think we’ve accomplished that,” Bailey said.
St. Joseph Community Branding LLC is led by Bailey, of the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce. Members of the group include Joey Austin, Mosaic Life Care; Bridget Blevins, St. Joseph School District; Beth Conway, St. Joseph Convention & Visitors Bureau; Jomel Nichols, Missouri Western State University; and Mary Robertson, City of St. Joseph. Christel Gollnick, of JUPER Communications, LLC, serves with the group and has managed creative development in 2017.
Made With Uncommon Character can help you recruit and retain employees! Brochures, videos, goodie bags for top recruits, social media channels and the website all provide information on what makes St. Joseph a good choice as a place to live and work. Use these materials in your recruitment efforts to help explain where St. Joseph is and why this is a good place to be.
Encourage your current employees to follow Uncommon Character on social media to find out about events in the area, business openings and to learn about other residents who help make our city unique.
Want to help support the campaign? Buy Uncommon Character merchandise for your employees to wear on casual Fridays. You can even choose one of a dozen character traits that describes your company to customize your shirts or add your logo to help build city and company spirit.
Want to feature Made With Uncommon Character merchandise in your store or gift shop? These items have become popular since the Aug. 4 launch of the campaign and are currently only available online and at special events. Draw more shoppers into your store by letting the Uncommon Character campaign advertise your business as a place to purchase items.
Wholesale discounts are offered for orders of 12 or more for business use or retail sales. All money raised goes directly back into creating more campaign materials. Call (816) 364-4108 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.