Branding FAQs

Regional Research & Branding Task Force 


Where did this initiative come from?

This initiative originated from The Path to Regional Excellence meeting last fall (Nov. 3, 2009) at Kirkwood Community College that was hosted bv the Corridor Business Alliance (CBA) and Corridor2020. The meeting attracted over 350 community and business leaders and featured Michael Langley, a regional planning expert, who discussed the qualities of an effective region. It also featured a panel discussion which included Sally Mason, president of the University of Iowa, and Eliot Protsch, executive vice president, of Alliant Energy, and was moderated by Jack Evans, president of The Hall-Perrine Foundation.

The CBA felt the regional event was hugely successful and decided to use the momentum and success to continue its work. The CBA hired Michael Langley to return to the region and conduct a strategic planning session on December 18, 2009. More than 30 regional leaders participated in the session.

The strategic planning session resulted in three key strategic initiatives for the region that began in January 2010. The branding initiative is one of the three initiatives.

What are Corridor2020 and the Corridor Business Alliance (CBA)?

Corridor2020 is an informal vehicle to communicate and share information about building a stronger region. A website was created for this purpose. The idea was a result of collaboration between Chuck Peters from Gazette Communications and John Lohman from the Corridor Business Journal

The Corridor Business Alliance (CBA) includes twelve organizations in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area that were interested in discussing a regional approach to economic development. The work of these groups has evolved into the formation of the Corridor Business Alliance (CBA) and the following vision, purpose and goals to date. Members include Alliant Energy (Diane Ramsey), Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (Shannon Meyer), Entrepreneurial Development Center (Curt Nelson), Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce (Nancy Quellhorst), Iowa City Area Development Group (Joe Raso), Kirkwood Community College (Dee Baird) , MidAmerican Energy (Greg Theis), Priority One (Mark Seckman), Kirkwood’s Small Business Development Center (Al Beach), The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa (David Hensley), University of Iowa Research Foundation (Pam York) and University of Iowa Small Business Development Center (Paul Heath).

The vision of the CBA is to create a vital regional economy through the creation and growth of business.

Who is on the Regional Research and Branding Task Force?

  1. John Lohman
  2. Curt Nelson                                        Ex Officio Members:
  3. Pam York                                              Chuck Peters
  4. Shannon Meyer                                  Dee Baird
  5. Nancy Quellhorst                               Joe Raso
  6. Josh Schamberger                             
  7. Marilee Fowler
  8. Kelly Hayworth
  9. Tim Bradshaw
  10. Kristie Wetjen

Are there any paid staff on the task force?

No. It is strictly an organization made up of volunteers.

How is the task force organized and funded?

The initiative is chaired by John Lohman, president and publisher of the Corridor Business Journal with support from Curt Nelson, president and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Development Center and Pam York, the president of the University of Iowa Research Foundation.

The initiative is funded primarily through members of the CBA. Additional state and federal grant money may be sought to support this effort.

Why was North Star Destination Strategies selected as the branding firm and not a local firm?

North Star, based in Nashville, TN, is the only company to combine research, strategy, creativity and action in one program specifically for communities. They have worked with over 130 communities and regions in more than 30 states

 How much will this cost?

The cost to hire North Star Destination Strategies for this project is approximately $125,000.

How long will this process take?

The entire process will take 9-12 months. The initial research part will take 3-4 months.

What will be gained/learned from this initiative? Or what is the goal of this initiative?

A brand is not created; it is discovered within the spirit of a place. Using qualitative and quantitative research tools, North Star will help us achieve a focused snapshot of our region’s values, assets and priorities, which can then be articulated as our “brand.”

We will learn what are the strengths and weaknesses of our region. We will learn what we think of ourselves as well as what people outside the region think of us. We will get a better understand of which regions we compete with on a national and global stage.

Brands uncovered in this manner are endorsed and absorbed by their communities due to their fundamental truth. Because of this, they are exceedingly useful to community leaders in furthering the economic, political and social goals of the region. In other words, an honest, relevant, clearly and cleverly articulated brand can move our community from good to great.

Will individual communities lose their own identity in this process?

No. It is the Task Force’s hope that a unified regional brand will help make our region more globally competitive while preserving and celebrating the identities of local communities.

Will the new brand be “what we are” or “what we want to become?”

As mentioned in the answer to #9, a brand is not created; it is discovered within the spirit of a place. Using qualitative and quantitative research tools, North Star will help us achieve a focused snapshot of our region’s values, assets and priorities, which can then be articulated as our “brand.”

What can I do to help?

Continue to stay informed and provide your thoughts and input to John Lohman, the task force chair, or any of the Task Force members.

John Lohman can be reached at or (319) 887-2251 ext. 310.

How do I stay informed about this initiative?

 The best way to stay informed is to keep coming back to for updates.

One thought on “Branding FAQs”

Comments are closed.