Bringing communities together through branding, and developing a multi-town brand strategy to foster civic pride, increase tourism in the shoulder seasons as well as attract talent and investment to the area.

Engagement-driven community branding

This was a collaborative project with investment from Hubbard County, the City of Park Rapids, MN, and the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Park Rapids Lakes Area has been a summer tourist destination for generations. With increased competition and many resorts selling and becoming private, the community was looking at ways to increase shoulder season tourism and attract employers and talent. As a community consisting of multiple towns, they were also looking for ways to come together and create a stronger community brand that everyone can buy into.


Round Tables


Miles Traveled




Float Plane Rides

Project Documentary

A behind-the-scenes look at the entire branding process.

A Name The Whole Community can get behind

The Park Rapids Lakes Area is made up of a handful of small towns — each with their own unique character that all bring something unique to the table. Through our engagement process one of the first things we discovered was the need for a name for the region that made each community feel included.

While they all agreed they were better together, many of the towns felt left out when referred to as the Park Rapids Lakes Area. Through extensive engagement, research, and testing, we landed on the name Heartland Lakes.

Design Process

We developed brand principles that everyone in the community agreed made Heartland Lakes unique, and began designing and testing shapes, images and colors that best represented those brand principles.

We worked with the branding committee and explored and tested a wide range of options and design directions. We created not only a logomark but a brand system that all cities and businesses within Heartland Lakes can tap into.

I don't see how you can't
get on board with this strategy.
I think everyone will grab an oar
and start paddling

Nicole Lalum - Explore Minnesota

Capturing the seasons

Over the course of a year, we took multiple week-long trips to the area. While the primary goal of our trips was engagement, a close second was to capture video and photography of the different seasons. With four really distinct seasons, the community offers something completely different with each changing season and it is important to the brand to be able to show that.

Implementation plan

A new brand on day one has zero value. It’s only after implementation and buy-in that it gains meaning, trust and value. Therefore implementation is critical.

We developed a multi-year implementation plan that includes brand management, roll-out and marketing strategies, and key catalyst projects that launch the brand. These catalyst projects included not just tourism projects, but also a campaign geared toward those considering moving to the area. From this we created a series of videos called ‘Stories from the Heart’ where we share the stories of different people who have decided to call Heartland Lakes home.

Sharing the stories of those who call Heartland Lakes home
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This project is by CivicBrand, the civic focused division of our agency,
so this case study lives on

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