A statewide initiative to rebrand the region from Hampton Roads to Coastal Virginia could strengthen our identity to drive the economy. Here are 10 quick steps to initiate branding change:
1. Let the process begin with the region’s tourism industry. As a voice reaching outside the region, the tourism industry is by far the strongest and loudest. Amplifying this voice are multi-million-dollar ad budgets. Secondly, within the industry, our region is rewarded with a tremendous group of professionals who know how to market a destination and build a brand. No amount of “consulting fees” would pull together a stronger team of experts.
2. Change the name of the East Coast Gateway Welcome Center to the Coastal Virginia Welcome Center. Use the center to promote, build and define the brand.
3. Develop branding icons and colors that can be incorporated at the Welcome Center and carried throughout the various destinations within the region, at regional attractions and on the gateways to and from destinations within the region.
4. Create welcome signage for all destinations that are tagged regionally, such as, “Welcome To Hampton, A Coastal Virginia Community,” “Welcome to Norfolk, A Coastal Virginia Community,” etc.
5. Market regional destinations collaboratively under the Coastal Virginia brand.
6. Collaborate on marketing for the individual cities or counties so that advertising dispersed from each of them is tagged regionally. For example, “This Summer Visit Virginia Beach, A Coastal Virginia Community.”
7. Brand regional events to Coastal Virginia, e.g. changing the Virginia Arts Festival to the Coastal Virginia Arts Festival. Consider collaboration on the creation of a new, regional event such as the Coastal Virginia Seafood Festival.
8. Defer to regional naming for major new facilities or attractions such as a “Coastal Virginia Arena.”
9. Implement name changes for all regional associations and economic development affiliations e.g. The Coastal Virginia Economic Development Alliance, The Coastal Virginia Chamber of Commerce, etc.
10. Seek our naming opportunities for things that bind us together, e.g. the Coastal Virginia Expressway (I-64 from Williamsburg to Suffolk), the Coastal Virginia Tunnel, Beltway, etc.