Sandy Hook business leaders and a team of experts are envisioning a new brand for the downtown community, and the second phase of the effort began last week, according to Connecticut Main Street associate director Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker.
For the second phase, SHOP (the Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity) will hire a part-time brand steward to build a new image for the neighborhood. SHOP posted the position Thursday and has created a search committee to handle the hire.
The Connecticut Main Street Center, recruited by SHOP to lead the branding effort, will also be busy in coming months.
"We’re turning our attention to SHOP as an organization to make sure they’re as effective as they can be in organizing around the future of Sandy Hook Village," Parsons-Whitaker said. "Around what the village looks like, how it operates physically and paying attention to how the businesses are doing and business expansion / recruitment. We're making sure the village center itself is a welcome place for social gathering."
In January, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced a $500,000 STEAP (Small Town Economic Assistance Program) grant for the Sandy Hook business community. The initial goal was to recoup losses from the immediate aftermath of the Dec. 14 shooting on local businesses — the reduced foot traffic, the clogged streets due to media and well-wishers, and the money lost in the typically profitable Christmas season.
Since then, business leaders have thought long-term. In October, Connecticut Main Street debuted a line of potential brands for the streets and businesses of Sandy Hook, centered around a simple slogan: "A Place For Us All." (See above for images from the presentation.)
Envisioning signage both in town and on the interstate, the logos highlight everything from Sandy Hook's laundromat and barber shops to the hiking trails and annual duck race on the Pootatuck River.
"I think, overwhelmingly, people are very approving of what’s been done," Parsons-Whitaker said. "Some people are very impressed. And probably the businesses are now thinking, 'This stuff has been developed, now let’s get it out there.'"
For the brand steward, SHOP is looking for "somebody who understands communications and marketing, and has a talent to work with independent business owners and can pull them out," Parsons-Whitaker said.
Know someone who'd make a great brand representative for Sandy Hook? Here's what SHOP is looking for, according to the application:
"The Brand Steward will utilize the new Sandy Hook Community Brand Identity Guidelines and tools to create powerful and effective marketing pieces for Sandy Hook Village businesses. This professional will be an excellent communicator, adept at interacting directly with small business owners, to incorporate the brand identity with the unique offerings in the Village, and with S.H.O.P. to effectively promote events and activities."
- Provide technical marketing support to Sandy Hook businesses to implement the new community brand materials
- Educate business owners and S.H.O.P. leaders about effective ways to adopt the branding tactics into their existing marketing efforts
- Manage website content and update, routinely assess and improve effectiveness
- Manage E-marketing program development and management (Mail Chimp)
- Significantly expand the use of social media, via the community brand materials
- Enable effective communications with diverse constituencies; build relationships and collaborate/coordinate with S.H.O.P. members, Town of Newtown officials, partners, service providers, etc.
- Write and distribute press releases
- Provide administrative support for S.H.O.P. leadership (meeting minutes, email communication with S.H.O.P. members)