Heartland Center for Leadership Development


Date of this Version


Document Type



Branding Your Community

Presented to: South Dakota Horizons, March 25-27, 2008, Armour, Philip, and Conde, South Dakota

Presented by: Milan Wall, Heartland Center for Leadership Development


Copyright 2008, the author. Used by permission.


Connections: Using a Brand Creation Approach to Community Identity

Origins of the Branding Concept

Even far back in the middle ages when artists and artisans began to form guilds or associations together, many hallmarks or identifying symbols were used as a signatures by artisans to lay claim to the result of his or her work. Another important, and American reference, comes from the days before fences divided up the frontier and cattle owners found a way to mark and identify their own cattle by branding them with a personalized symbol. Even today, many purebred horses are carefully inspected and only a few approved for a brand which then insures the quality of a particular breed. That brand, a symbol of the breed, is only applied to those animals that pass a careful quality inspection.

In these ways, a brand has become an assurance of quality. Over time, some brands actually come to mean certain products themselves. For example, can you think of facial tissue or gelatin without thinking of Kleenex or Jell-O? In these cases, the brand became synonymous with the product. When you say that something is the “Rolls Royce version,” you make a reference to a brand that stands for the ultimate in quality.