Creation of a Refreshed Brand Platform and Strategic Marketing Plan

City of Saco logoEstablish a stronger brand and marketing strategy, empowering the City of Saco to leverage its strengths and drive smart economic growth

Situation Analysis
Located at the mouth of the Saco River along the Atlantic Ocean and in close proximity to major metropolitan areas, Saco is a former mill district with a picturesque downtown, growing economy and many scenic places to enjoy the outdoors. With the revitalization of its former mill buildings in full swing and other exciting redevelopment projects happening within the City, an increased opportunity had been created to attract new businesses, residents and visitors downtown.

With so much of the landscape of the City having changed for the better in recent years, town leaders knew it was time to revisit and refresh its branding to reflect the new, more vibrant Saco. They also wanted a set of tactics and tools that would enable the City to more aggressively court economic development projects and tourism revenue. Saco had a limited budget for marketing so strategies would have to be streamlined and able to be implemented with the City’s existing staff. Saco leaders looked to Marshall Communications to help bring its branding and marketing to the next level.

Marshall Communications developed a three-year Marshall Plan® for the City, a strategic marketing plan tailored specifically to Saco’s unique strengths and marketing goals. It included a host of tactics, all working together to achieve the same goal, ranging from media relations to traditional and digital marketing to social media to community outreach. The plan was structured so that it could be implemented in-house at a minimal expense.

The process began with a Discovery meeting, a three-hour brainstorming session in which the agency captured an in-depth view of the town’s strengths, challenges, and vision for the future.

Marshall Communications and town officials brought together a diverse group of stake holders to participate in the meeting including business owners, representatives from the local town academy, Saco Maine Street, law enforcement, and town officials. Many viewpoints were represented, and all continued to be involved through the plan’s completion and implementation.

The foundation for the tactics laid out in the plan is a new brand platform including a brand story that reflects Saco’s storied past, its rich natural surroundings, and all the exciting offerings brought about by the revitalization now under way. Marshall Communications also worked with the City to develop and finalize a new tagline, “Friendly by Nature,” and logo. The tagline reflects the city’s many assets including the beach, Saco River, trails and parks as well as city’s nature of being age friendly, business friendly, dog friendly, bike friendly, environmentally friendly and recreationally friendly. Marshall Communications partnered with Designlab, a Maine-based design firm to create the city’s logo. The new logo was a direct result of the destination branding process as part of the Marshall Plan. The logo features the “o” in Saco as a swirl to represent ocean wave, highlighting the city’s location on the ocean and connection to nature that also complement the city’s tagline.

The Marshall Plan provided the Saco with new energy, a stronger brand, and a blueprint to promote the City’s many assets as a place to live, play and do business.

Since the completion of the Marshall Plan®, the City has attracted several new businesses to the region, including Ready Seafood Co. Saco was also one of a number of Maine communities identified by the State’s governor as an “opportunity zones.” The governor selected these areas based primarily on identified investment opportunities where such investments would likely be met with success.

Thanks to the media relations tools and guidance Saco officials received through the Marshall Plan®, the City has scored positive media coverage in Maine television, print and radio outlets, including, most recently, features on its Age Friendly AARP-endorsed status and a new community gardening program. Both articles fully support the foundation of the Saco brand, “Friendly by Nature.”