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Hartford Public Library is “a place like no other”

Hartford Public Library
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Innovation Summary

It all started with the challenging question of: “what is the library of the 21st century?” That led to the development of a new logo and tag: a place like no other – place to dream, look for work, be educated, thrive together, and build a great relationship for life.

Innovation Leader: Mary Crean, chief development officer, mcrean@hplct.org

Problem Statement

Hartford Public Library has always been a treasured and appreciated resource in the community, yet there was confusion among stakeholders and the public about the services we provided and the true value we brought to the region. In 2011, we recognized we were in a position of opportunity. By taking a closer look at our value story and redefining our brand positioning, we knew we would be able to grow donor contributions and expand partnerships; validate the impact of our programs and services; increase the use and expand the appeal of our resources; and create a positive perception in the community.

Innovation

We undertook a yearlong comprehensive strategic branding initiative, during which we recognized that Hartford Public Library truly is “a place like no other.” This became our new tagline and the driving force behind our rebrand. We crafted a new positioning organized on four brand pillars – Social, Cultural, Economic and Education – which helped frame our story and demonstrate our impact. Our new logo uses vibrant colors and graphic shapes that can represent either horizontal books or the stairway/path we provide to various resources. The logo formed the base for the development of an entirely new brand system for all communications. As part of the rebranding initiative, we created an information-rich, visually pleasing and easy-to-navigate web site that integrates the library’s new state-of-the-art catalog, calendar and research databases. The site makes it easier for visitors to engage with the library at all levels. We also developed a 90-second brand image video that portrays this place of learning, culture, history and fun as a “place like no other.” We continue to implement our brand across all communication channels. The feedback from stakeholders and the community has been phenomenal. The positioning and associated messaging has been used for grant applications and donor cultivation, and we are thrilled with the new life the branding has brought to our organization.

Progress

As a result of its rebranding Hartford Public Library is quickly becoming a national leader in redefining the urban public library in the 21st century as an innovative and stimulating place where people can learn and discover, explore their passions, and find a rich array of resources that contribute to a full life. In its commitment to the community, we planted the seeds that will cultivate long-lasting opportunities for a prosperous social, cultural, financial and educational future. The Library’s new logo and brand identity were launched with a video premiere at the library’s 2011 annual fundraising gala “One Big Summer Night.” The library’s increased visibility and presence in the media and the community allowed us to increase our fundraising goal by 104% from the previous year. We also experienced increases in PC uses, registered borrowers, circulation, program attendance, reference questions and e-resources that can be attributed to the rebranding project. We are truly a place like no other. We are in and of the community: A gateway for immigrants and refugees. An early literacy center for preschoolers. A WiFi hot spot and business office for area workers. An exhibit space for artists. A technology resource for residents and visitors. A lender of books and other educational and entertaining materials. A training center for the development of new skills. The repository of Hartford's history. A gathering place for people to relax, explore, learn, and grow. We are not just about books anymore.