‘Our Story’ working to find region’s voice

October 1st, 2014

News Coverage:

‘Our Story’ working to find region’s voice

Workshop is part of brand initiative

Posted: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 11:00 pm | Updated: 6:20 am, Wed Oct 1, 2014.

By Barry Rochford

ALBION — During the past few weeks, people have come together at workshops dotted throughout northeast Indiana in an attempt to identify a persona for the 10-county region.

At a follow-up workshop Tuesday morning in Albion, a room full of Noble County representatives endeavored to give that persona a voice.

The workshop, along with a similar event Tuesday afternoon in Shipshewana, was tied to the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s “Our Story” project to develop a unified brand identity for the region.

Once developed, the brand will serve as a representative message for the region that can also be tailored to suit communities, civic, cultural and economic development organizations, and businesses, among others.

“We want people to know exactly what northeast Indiana is about,” said Courtney Tritch, vice president of marketing at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

Defining northeast Indiana’s brand identity can help clarify perceptions about the region, and reduce the clutter and confusion of competing messages, those involved in the effort have said.

“Who you are impacts how you talk about yourself and how the messaging works,” Tritch said.

Scott Ochander, vice president for enrollment and marketing at Manchester University in North Manchester and a consultant for the Regional Partnership on the “Our Story” project, said as the workshops have unfolded, common themes have come to the forefront. And it’s been largely the same whether you’re in Noble County, Allen County or Wabash County.

Individuals taking part in the workshops have indicated northeast Indiana is supportive, persevering and giving.

“We actually view ourselves similarly across counties more than you might expect,” he said.

Ochander led Tuesday’s workshop participants through a series of exercises to further refine and explain some of the key characteristics of the region and why they are important.

Information collected from the region-wide workshops — as well as input offered through an online component that will be rolled out in the coming weeks — will be sifted through by Ochander and consulting partner Tyler Borders. The resulting brand and message will be revealed in December or January, Tritch said.

“Ultimately, the work we’re doing today is going to tell that story,” Ochander said.

Tuesday’s workshop at the Noble County Public Library in Albion attracted 56 participants, which was the highest attendance of any of the county events held across the region. The large turnout was aided by a contingent of students from West, Central and East Noble high schools.

Rick Sherck, executive director of the Noble County Economic Development Corp., said it’s important the students and their peers be involved in crafting northeast Indiana’s identity.

“This is really going to be (more) about your story in the long run than it’s going to be ours,” he said.

Help tell ‘Our Story’

Additional “Our Story” project messaging workshops will be held in northeast Indiana counties through Friday. For more information about the project, go to neindiana.com/vision/the-vision/our-story. In the next few weeks, interested individuals will be able to complete workshop exercises online through the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership’s website.