Telling a Story to Build an Experience

A Focus on Community Branding


For some, it’s a logo, a tagline or a name. A brand does indeed have all those elements, but its true purpose is to establish feeling. A brand is how people perceive a name. It’s essentially what they say when you’re not around.

This is particularly important in travel, which is centered around the very essence of feeling. The modern tourist has less interest in attractions and more desire for experiences and how those experiences make them feel.

Community branding is focused on that experience. Pinpoint believes that every place – anyplace – can be a destination. It’s just a matter of finding the experience in any given community.


A small city in the Southern Tier of New York state, needed a new image after decades of decline. Once the proud home of IBM, the local economy suffered as the iconic company and several other manufacturers left the area in the 1980s and 1990s.

But, Binghamton’s history went back much further than that.

At the turn of the century, the Parlor City was known for its industrial might and lavish homes. Once dubbed the “Valley of Opportunity,” the area’s three signature communities – Binghamton, Johnson City and Endicott – were driven by large cigar and shoe manufacturers. The richest man in the country built a skyscraper here just so he could start his own newspaper and get more flattering coverage in his hometown.

These historic tidbits were just a few ABC Creative Group knew going into a community branding project with its longtime client the Greater Binghamton Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The branding process would reveal many more insights and ultimately give the Triple Cities an attractive identity as a destination.



Is to inform the actual community about what you’re doing and what you hope to achieve. That community includes key stakeholders as well as the general public.

Pinpoint worked with the CVB to identify business, nonprofit, government and community leaders who would offer the most valuable insight into the strengths, weaknesses, advantages and opportunities of Greater Binghamton. With the discovery session guest list established, Pinpoint began a communications campaign.

The public relations team crafted messaging that explained the reasoning for the branding project and the essential role of the community in creating it. That was translated into persuasive discovery session invitations to the stakeholders as well as press releases intended to build some buzz about the branding.

Public relations strategy included use of internal communications like the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce newsletter and coverage from all of the local print, digital and broadcast outlets.

Pinpoint announced that the CVB would be establishing a new look – and feel – for the Binghamton community. That was translated into invitations that explained to stakeholders how critical their input would be and encouraged the public to participate in an upcoming survey.



The discovery session gave Pinpoint its first set of community assets to work with. Stakeholders brought attention to positives like re-emerging arts and culture; a rising class of restaurateurs and craft brewers; and a fascinating, but unheralded, history. Challenges included the heavy negativity carried by jaded locals and underutilization of Binghamton’s waterfront.

The public survey largely confirmed both the positive and negative sentiments while offering even more insight into why someone should bother coming to Greater Binghamton as a tourist.

Pinpoint selected a few stakeholders who seemed particularly passionate, but also objective, about community strengths and weaknesses for one-on-one interviews. The group included local attraction owners, a culinary expert/author, a resort owner, a city planner and some small business owners.

As the selling points of arts, culture and water began to surface, the SEO team went to work identifying competing destinations and analyzing user behavior. Competitive analysis identified communities of similar size and demographics. Our team vetted the entire country for towns of similar populations, wealth, higher education presence, water frontage and even history.

We started to break down what assets they were successfully selling to prospective tourists. From the West Coast to the Deep South, the common thread was civic revival centered around enthusiastic entrepreneurs and artists. Arts, culture, dining, craft beer and outdoor activities were working. Binghamton shared those assets along with one unique trait that precipitated them all – a great story more than a century in the making.

On the data collection side, the SEO team began with what users were already searching for in relation to Binghamton.


These items told us the brand was on target with food, arts and culture, especially considering the later included a strong culinary history and deep love of sports that began decades ago.

The community brand would build on those key features and integrate the great history and story of what was once called the Parlor City for its industrial wealth and opulent lifestyle.


The community brand needed to accomplish a few things.

  • It needed to tell the Binghamton story and connect its remarkable past to the new creative class responsible for revival of this hidden gem.
  • It had to be inclusive of all three communities and the county at large that make up Greater Binghamton.
  • It had to appeal to wide variety of audiences, from millennials and young families looking for fun to Baby Boomers and senior couples searching for leisure time.

A positioning statement captured the story we needed to tell and how we were going to sell it. This central message guided all the creative development to follow.

Binghamton is a city that’s different. Built by historic innovators. Fueled by our rivers and a new class of creative visionaries. Binghamton challenges you to abandon boring and raise expectations. We’re not a destination. We’re an ongoing story you can be a part of. We’re not just a vacation. We’re a city to be explored. We’re not just a city. We’re proud communities filled with rich history, hard work and unique experiences.


ABC crafted a logo as bright and vibrant as the communities it represents, which we captured in a lively and inclusive “BING” ID. We pulled in the brand positioning with the “Be Part of Our Story” tagline.

We developed ads with bold headlines and imagery that illustrated the compelling scenes a visitor might find while exploring this dynamic place. The website was revised with bolder colors, brighter imagery and bigger text, all integrating the new brand assets.


ABC continues to move forward with the Greater Binghamton CVB as a client and guides both marketing strategy and creative development of print and digital assets.

The return on investment will be continuously monitored as we measure campaign the campaign against conversion goals established during the community branding process.


ABC continues to move forward with the Greater Binghamton CVB as a client and guides both marketing strategy and creative development of print and digital assets.

The return on investment will be continuously monitored as we measure campaign the campaign against conversion goals established during the community branding process.

All told, the story of the Binghamton branding process is one that shows how a community can discover the assets hidden in plain sight with a little direction from a professional destination marketing partner and a lot of research.

Binghamton will never be the industrial powerhouse it once was. Binghamton will also never again be viewed as a place that “used to be.” The forward-looking brand invites travelers to experience what Binghamton is now and be a part of its exciting future.

Client Experience

Baseball Hall of Fame
Brew Central
Greater Binghamton New York Convention & Visitors Bureau
Central New York
Schoharie County - A Better Time
Dairylea Cooperative Inc.
Madison County - Indulge Your Senses
Montgomery County Business Development Center
Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce
1000 Islands
Orleans County New York
Cayuga Lake Wine Trail
Go All Out Broome County
Fulton County

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