It’s easy to get lost today. Working with branding and communications for the last two decades, I often counseled my clients on bold strategies to stand out in the “sea of sameness” that exists in almost any aspect of life or business today. Working with Fortune 500 companies, Mom-and-Pop shops, non-profits, or even counseling people on how to cultivate their personal brand, my advice was remarkably similar. Do something different. Stand for something. Don’t settle for good enough. Fight against taking the easy path and simply blending in.
That desire — to lead the fight against mediocrity and anonymity — led me to Catalyst Experiential. Catalyst recognized that suburban municipalities also suffer from a “sea of sameness.” Suburbanization has erased the identity of many communities. Go outside of any large city in the United States, and drive along the major roads through the suburbs. You will find remarkably similar landscapes, as unique local identities are lost. Each town blends into the next with a parade of similar stores, signs, and buildings.
Urban planners have long identified this problem, and many townships and counties have active plans to improve the life of their citizens and bring back local identity to public spaces. Visions of village greens, improved walkability, and memorable landmarks — plus much-needed municipal facilities to serve a growing population — often remain simply visions, without the funding to achieve them.
Catalyst Experiential works with local township representatives to identify unmet community needs and develop plans to help them become reality. Call it “local branding on steroids.” Many of these projects involve underutilized plots of land that are transformed into community monuments, creating a sense of place and announcing that “you are here.”
For instance, in Middletown, PA, a digital monument was erected in place of a rundown repair shop. The project evolved from conversations with township officials, who helped identify the site,as well as the design. The result is the transformation of a community eyesore into a landscaped parcel that serves as a welcoming gateway to Middletown.
As Chairwoman Amy Strouse, of the Middletown Township Board of Supervisors, told the Bucks County Courier Times:
We often think of ourselves as living in Langhorne or Levittown because those are our addresses, but we also live in Middletown Township. One of the things I’ve always wanted for Middletown is for its residents to have a stronger sense of place and community. One of my hopes for this [monument] is that it will contribute to that sense of place and community.
The projects are funded by revenue from the high-quality display. And, this display further enhances the local brand by featuring announcements from the township, school district, local non-profits, and other organizations, as well as ads from local businesses. At present we are working with a local school district to present a “virtual art show,” showcasing student work.
Catalyst Experiential is redefining the physical form of communication by integrating visual communication technology with public meetings places, recreational uses, facilities, and infrastructure. Imagine dog parks, pedestrian bridges, community amphitheaters — or even fire stations — that serve the public, while enabling local government, schools, charities and businesses to speak directly to the community. That’s what Catalyst Experiential does.