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It Just Feels Like Milton

July 23, 2014
Last month I began talking about branding – what it is, and how Milton uses it. This month, I’ll continue that discussion by devoting an entire column to the haziest aspect of branding: the intangible brand experience. 

Probably the best example of brand experience I can use is Apple. Think about using an iPhone, or an iPod, or an iPad. Think about visiting Apple’s Web site, or using iTunes to download content for your devices. Think about going to an Apple store – a physical experience that probably reminds you somewhat of using one of the company’s popular products. 

What I’m getting at here is that Apple wants you to have a brand experience – they want you to be able to buy a device, bring it out of the box, and use it immediately. They want you to go to a store and be able to buy those devices quickly and easily.

They want, above all else, for everything to be simple and beautiful and intuitive. That is a brand experience. 

Experience is an interesting concept. Its intangible yet produces tangible results. And this is where your brand comes into play. 

In Milton, that intangible aspect of our brand is a shared concept to which the management team is quite attuned. You’ll most often hear it described as “it’s just feels like Milton,’ or “doesn’t feel very Milton.” 

What everyone is talking about is a specific and repeatable set of experiences we try to include in everything we do. All of our photos, approved colors, parks programs, special events – it all feeds into those experiences. 

The experience is high-class country. It’s professional yet neighborly. It’s refined yet unassuming. It’s exclusive living in an inclusive community. It’s a government that’s singularly focused but chooses the collaborative path to get things done.

If you interact with one of our employees, you’ll hopefully come away thinking – that person just treated me like a neighbor. If your child plays in one of our programs, you’ll hopefully come away thinking – I’m glad I’m part of this community. If you use or Web site, social media, or printed products, you’ll hopefully come away thinking – they treated me like I was part of the solution. 

In this regard, branding is cross-jurisdictional, it’s cross-departmental. It’s more than just a project for a communications professional: it should be woven into every aspect of your organization. 

It’s not a simple task, but it is one that you can break down into some simple everyday tasks. They just have to be done every day in every department. And that’s what I’ll talk about next month.
Jason Wright is Communications Manager for the Georgia Tech Research Library. Up until November 2015, he was the Director of Innovation and Engagement for the City of Milton where he oversaw all aspects of the city's branding and communications efforts, including transparency, automation, design, photography, printing, web services and social media and public outreach.

Prior to Milton, Wright spent seven years working in the magazine and newspaper business. Most recently he was editor of both the Milton Herald and Alpharetta–Roswell Revue and News, where he wrote, edited, photographed for and oversaw design of the weekly papers. Prior to that, he worked as a writer, editor, designer and photographer for local, regional and national publication.